The RotoViz WR Prospect Sweet 16 Tournament matches the top incoming prospects in a head-to-head March Madness style format. Various RotoViz writers break down each match-up with the winner moving on to the next round.
(7) Tyler Boyd vs (10) Sterling Shepard
Tyler Boyd broke onto the scene as a freshman at Pitt, challenging for Larry Fitzgerald’s wide receiver records. During his college career Boyd proved he could carry a passing offense on his back. In 2015, Boyd was asked to do even more as he was used as a passer, runner, receiver and return man. While many question his athleticism, there is no questioning his college production.
Sterling Shepard is regarded by many as the best route runner in this draft class. In 2015, Shepard bested Boyd from in raw stats going for 86 receptions for 1,288 yards and 11 touchdowns. While some people compare Shepard to Tyler Lockett, many people believe he will be limited to the slot role at the next level. Was Shepard’s performance at the combine enough to push him past Boyd?
Anthony Amico – Tyler Boyd: A couple of weeks ago, I would have scoffed at the idea that Boyd and Shepard were even close to one another. Now I’m not so sure. Boyd tested out as tall, thin, slow, and not agile or explosive. It was a truly disappointing weekend. Meanwhile, Shepard came out looking very explosive and was only three pounds lighter than Boyd despite being three inches shorter. That said, I’m sticking with my guns for now on Boyd, who is almost two full years younger than Shepard, and posted a dominator rating of 0.36 or better all three years at Pitt. He is also one of the most versatile players in this draft, with over 500 rushing yards and 1,300 return yards.
Shawn Siegele – Tyler Boyd: Boyd looks like a rich man’s Keenan Allen. Sterling Shepard looks like a rich man’s Ryan Broyles.
Matthew Freedman – Sterling Shepard: I’m not enamored with either of these guys, but Boyd is smaller, slower, and less productive than you would expect based on his reputation. Shepard at least was sufficiently productive in college and was almost fast enough to make up for his deficiency in size. That’s more than can be said for Boyd. That Boyd was never a strong touchdown producer in college is a big red flag.
Scott Smith – Tyler Boyd: It’s amazing how much people value combine results. Boyd has a Career MS Rec Yds of 0.43. That’s elite production even if he only projects as a slot WR. Neither guy in this battle may be a prototype WR1 and in that case give me Boyd on the back of his young, elite college production.
Charles Kleinheksel – Tyler Boyd: Jon Moore convinced me. That and the Box Score Scout. Boyd’s top comps: Stefon Diggs, Earl Bennett, Keenan Allen. Shepard’s: DJ Hall, John Standeford, Rashad Greene.
Jon Moore – Tyler Boyd: Boyd has been too good, for too long, in too many capacities to not be an NFL success. Shep has a lot of interesting data points, and I think he’ll have a fine career, but I really expect Boyd to shine when he gets to the NFL and can be an elite complementary option in a passing attack.
Justin Winn – Tyler Boyd: In the leadup to the combine I was relatively bearish on Boyd. That was because I was pretty sure he was a mediocre athlete and that it would lower his likely NFL Draft position. I was shown to be right, and now I’m in the odd position of being relatively bullish on Boyd. Boyd’s age-adjusted production is tremendous. Shepard’s age-adjusted production suggests he’d be lucky to be a WR2.
Greg Conejo – Tyler Boyd: Boyd has an impressive production profile and his recent decline is likely due in part to the changing Pittsburgh offense after James Conner went down. I’m not scared off by his athletic profile, at least not enough to discount what he has proven by dominating on the field.
While Boyd swept all but a vote from Matthew Freedman, this battle is a lot closer than the score would indicate. The combine certainly raised some questions about Boyd’s overall athleticism. It’s not out of the realm of outcomes for Sterling to become the better pro. All the things valued here at RotoViz point to Boyd however. Tyler Boyd moves on to face Corey Coleman.
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