It took a while before the first wide receiver was taken last night in the first round of NFL draft, but once the seal was broken, the position saw a flurry of activity.
Now that the top four receivers are off the board, Pitt receiver Tyler Boyd is squarely in play to be among the next wideouts taken. The likelihood of Boyd coming off the board tonight during Rounds 2 or 3 is extremely high, but it’s still unclear which team will grab him. In advance of Friday night’s festivities, here are a handful of potential landing spots for Boyd.
AFC North Foes:
Boyd has been linked to all three non-Steelers teams in the AFC North: Baltimore, Cleveland and Cincinnati.
Baltimore: The Ravens signed former Steeler wide receiver Mike Wallace in the offseason and got word that ageless wonder Steve Smith is coming back for another season. Baltimore used last year’s first round pick on Breshad Perriman, a wideout from Central Florida, but injuries robbed him of his first NFL season. Still, the Ravens lack depth behind those three — Mike Wallace is far from a sure thing, and Steve Smith can’t last forever. (Can he?) Baltimore could grab Boyd and pair him with Perriman for the long haul.
Cincinnati: An offseason exodus left the Bengals’ cupboard almost completely bare behind star receiver AJ Green. Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones, the teams No. 2 and 3 receivers, left for greener pastures, and by “green,” I mean dinero; both men cashed in on lucrative free-agent deals. The Bengals could do worse than grabbing Boyd in the second round.
Cleveland: After selecting a much-needed wideout in the first round, the Browns probably won’t look to snag another in the early rounds, but they do have a bevy of picks thanks to trading down twice and face an extreme dearth of offensive playmakers.
Two of the teams that hosted Boyd for pre-draft visits reside in the NFC West: the Rams and 49ers. Though these teams would require some luck to get him, they’d both leap at the chance to draft Boyd.
Rams: The Rams just dished out a king’s ransom to trade up and grab quarterback Jared Goff with the No. 1 pick in the draft, so the least they could do is surround him with some weapons. Right now, the Rams’ receiving corps isn’t all that impressive. Tavon Austin is a smaller, shifty receiver best suited to play in the slot and the screen game. Behind him, they have Brian Quick, who is coming off a knee injury, and the enigma that is Kenny Britt. Los Angeles gave up its second and third round picks to get Goff, but you can’t rule out the possibility of them trading back up to get Boyd. The Rams would be downright ecstatic if he slid to them in the fourth round.
49ers: It seems like an eternity ago, but the 49ers are only three years removed from a Super Bowl appearance. Since then, head coach Jim Harbaugh has left, and San Francisco is now questioning whether former hot shot Colin Kaepernick is the quarterback of the franchise’s future. After a putrid last season, where the 49ers went 5-11, they need all the help they can get. Their receivers are currently an aging Anquan Boldin, an underachieving Torrey Smith and not much else. The 49ers don’t have a second-round pick, but they’ll be eyeing Boyd should he fall to No. 68, where they pick at the top of the third round.
Other Potential Landing Spots:
Atlanta: Longtime staple Roddy White was finally cut this offseason. The former star’s production has declined a bit over the past two seasons, and he complained last year about not getting the ball enough. Following his departure, the Falcons signed former Bengal Mohamed Sanu to fill the slot opposite Julio Jones. Even with those two, adding Boyd to the mix in a pass-heavy offense could greatly benefit Matt Ryan, who’s seen his touchdown total decline sharply (Ryan’s 21 passing TDs last season marked his lowest total since his rookie year.)
Detroit: Calvin Johnson’s early retirement hurt the Lions in a big way. Losing Megatron leaves quarterback Matthew Stafford and the passing attack with a gaping hole. Detroit wideout Golden Tate will return, and the Lions signed the Bengals’ Jones, but the more options, the better. Boyd could be enticing at pick No. 46.
Kansas City: Andy Reid’s West Coast offense is known for death by one thousand cuts. Boyd is great in the underneath game and is a tested possession receiver, hauling in 91 passes last season. Jeremy Maclin and heavily used tight end Travis Kelce do most of the damage through the air, but adding another sure-handed receiver would aid Alex Smith and the offense.