CINCINNATI (KDKA/AP) – The Bengals filled their biggest hole by drafting a receiver who reminds them of one that they lost. They even call him Sanu-esque.
Tyler Boyd did everything at Pitt, even lining up in the backfield for handoffs and throwing the ball on occasion. It’s a lot like what Mohamed Sanu did in Cincinnati, so the Bengals took Boyd in the second round of the NFL draft on Friday night. He’ll get a chance to win the job as the starting slot receiver.READ MORE: Pittsburgh Weather: Snow Keeps Falling
“There are Sanu-esque things in what he provides,” receivers coach James Urban said. “It’s the versatility, if there’s a similarity – the variety of things he’s capable of doing. It opens some options for us. You’ve seen some of the things that our creative minds can come up with to do with those types of players.”
The only part that’s not a good fit: Boyd grew up in the Pittsburgh area and has been a Steelers fan throughout his life.
“I’m still going to hear a lot of different things with my friends and family around, saying they’re still rooting for the Steelers, but at the end of the day, they’re going to be on my side because they love me and care about me and they always wanted to see me succeed,” Boyd said.
The AFC North rivalry assumed a nasty edge last season with the Steelers winning twice in Cincinnati, including an ugly first-round playoff game that has stuck with both teams.
Boyd has photos of himself wearing a Hines Ward jersey as a boy. His family and friends are hard-core Steelers fans. Boyd knew that the Bengals needed a receiver, but the Steelers were stocked at the position.
“They’re my hometown team,” Boyd said. “I definitely rooted for them. At the end of the day, I’ll sacrifice myself for the team that wanted to have me.”
Before becoming a star on Pitt’s football team, Boyd attended Clairton High School. He says he was anxious watching the draft, but now he’s ready to make an impact with in Cincinnati.
“I was definitely overwhelmed, had anxiety in me. I felt like I should have been earlier in terms of receiver slots, but you know, it don’t matter,” Boyd said.
“Everybody tells me what I tell myself every day, just take advantage of the opportunity. Whatever team picked me, I’m going to go in there and make a huge impact, quick as possible and help them become Super Bowl champions.”
His family and friends were at his side as his name was called by the Bengals.
“Just happy for him,” said his mom, Tanya Payne. “This has been his dream for a long time, since he was a little boy.
“Coming up at Pitt at the same time, same class, and to be able to follow his college years, see all his plays and just see the hard work pay off,” said Boyd’s Pitt teammate James Conner.
Cincinnati’s priority in the draft was to get a receiver who could start right away. Two of their top three pass catchers – Marvin Jones and Sanu – left as free agents. The Bengals signed Brandon LaFell, but needed another receiver to fill out the group led by A.J. Green.
They were looking to take a receiver in the first round, but the top four were gone by the time they got to make their choice at 24th. They went with cornerback William Jackson III instead, the third time in the last five years that they got a cornerback with their top choice.
They weren’t going to pass on Boyd when he was still there for the 55th pick. He wasn’t among the fastest of the receivers available in the draft, but his sure hands and ability to move around the field fit what the Bengals needed.
“You’ve got to retool the football team,” coach Marvin Lewis said. “I think this is … a guy that’s still ascending, which is good. You couldn’t watch a game where he wasn’t getting the ball in some fashion this year.”Pittsburgh Weather: Closings And Delays Coming In As Snow Falls
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