CINCINNATI (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.
“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.”
In the third round, the Bengals selected linebacker Nick Vigil from Utah State. A 6-2, 239-pounder, Vigil had 140 tackles last season with the Aggies. His brother Zach Vigil is a member of the Miami Dolphins.
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.”
The only part that’s not a good fit: Boyd grew up in Pennsylvania and has been a Steelers fans throughout his life. 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.”
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