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2016 NFL Draft Prospect: Tyler Boyd, WR, Pitt

At the risk of this article getting lost in the bowl-preview shuffle, I want to make one thing very clear right away:

Tyler Boyd is a legitimate threat to be my #1 wide receiver prospect for the 2016 NFL Draft.

Why do I say that? For starters, Tyler Boyd’s debut season in 2013 was one of the most precocious college wide receiver seasons of the decade. Honestly, it would have ranked even higher if there wasn’t an early-career mix up about his age. Then, in 2014, Tyler Boyd was the single most-heavily targeted receiver in college football,1 yet he still accumulated more than 10 yards per target, which is amazing. Basically, everyone in the stadium knew he was going to get the ball, but they couldn’t stop him from gaining first-down yardage every time the ball was thrown in his direction. For perspective, here are the top three names on that leaderboard from 20142

PlayerTarget RateYards / TgtMS YardsAge
Tyler Boyd41.5%10.352.8%20.2
Amari Cooper39.8%10.044.4%20.5
Tyler Lockett37.4%10.240.6%22.3

I think you could make the case that Amari Cooper and Tyler Lockett are the two most explosive rookie wide receivers. If you want to throw Stefon Diggs into that group too, that’s fine; his 2013 season was in this same stratosphere. Bottom line: Tyler Boyd was every bit the player Cooper and Lockett were in their final college seasons, but Boyd did it at a slightly younger age.

Looking at his 2015, we find that Boyd has again shouldered a tremendous workload. In the first game of the season, his teammate and star running back, James Conner, was lost for the year, which necessitated Boyd being even more involved in the offense. When accounting for his receiving and rushing production, Boyd accounted for 30 percent of Pitt’s total offense… not receiving yards… TOTAL OFFENSE. That is easily the best mark by any Power 5 receiver and ranks up there with the best players in the country. For perspective, here is how Boyd stacks up to some of the best running backs in college football:

PlayerMS TouchesMS Off Yds
Christian McCaffrey41.6%42.8%
Leonard Fournette40.1%42.3%
Derrick Henry36.7%37.9%
Ezekiel Elliott35.7%35.9%
Tyler Boyd16.4%30.0%

I know that he’s a little behind the cohort, but the fact that a Power 5 receiver could account for nearly the same percentage of offensive yards as probable first-round pick, Ezekiel Elliott, is utterly insane. For reference, 2016’s presumed top receiver prospect, Laquon Treadwell, only accounted for 18.9 percent of his team’s total offense. Whether it’s through the air or on the ground, Boyd consistently makes plays under the intense scrutiny of opposing defenses.

Comparing Boyd to Treadwell and Amari Cooper, here is how their careers look, in terms of age and market share of receiving yards.Boyd Amari Laquon career trajectory

While we still have to see how big and athletic Boyd really is, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that his college career has been comparable to Cooper’s. And, while Boyd is much leaner than Treadwell, I think it’s pretty clear that Boyd has been much more productive player.

And finally, let me mention Boyd’s special teams prowess, which is a key to finding hidden value at the receiver position; he has more than 1,300 career return yards and has a punt return touchdown. While we still have a lot to learn about the 2016 wide receiver class, Tyler Boyd is on my short list of guys who could end up as my No. 1 receiver in the class. Get a look at him in the clip below from DraftBreakdown against Iowa this year, and check him out in the Military Bowl on December 28.


Jon Moore is a contributor at RotoViz and a cohost of Rotoviz Radio – A Fantasy Football Podcast. Continue this conversation with him on Google+Facebook or Twitter.

  1. As a percentage of team targets.  (back)
  2. courtesy of Bill Connelly’s Football Study Hall  (back)

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