Former Pitt WR Boyd showing NFL teams his off-field growth
INDIANAPOLIS — Tyler Boyd is hoping a couple of shots don't cost him a couple of rounds, and in turn, a couple of million dollars.
Boyd's off-the-field reputation — first at Clairton and then at Pitt — rivaled that of his on-the-field one before a lapse of judgment eight months ago put that in jeopardy heading into this week's NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Teams want to know about Boyd's background, and he's more than happy to oblige.
“I let them know I how overcame my wrongdoings off the field. I let them know that I am a leader on and off the field,” Boyd said. “You won't have any controversy of any order.”
It's debatable that Boyd's off-field incident in June could be labeled under the major controversy category.
Boyd was charged with driving under the influence because his blood-alcohol level was above .02, the legal limit for drivers under the age of 21 in Pennsylvania, after he was stopped after trying to pass a car in an intersection in Jefferson Hills. Boyd was five months from turning 21 and told police he consumed two shots of an alcoholic beverage.
Boyd was placed on probation for 12 months and was suspended from the team for a month as well as the season opener against Youngstown State. But more important than that, Boyd said that incident changed his outlook on what is important.
“I have grown a lot since that,” Boyd said. “My decision-making skills definitely improved. As I aged, I made sure I surrounded myself with all the right people. At the time, I feel that my circle was too big, and I eliminated a lot of things. I realized what I had to do to handle myself and not follow after other people.”
Now, Boyd finds himself in total sell mode — something he's not comfortable doing and never really had to do. During his first two days at the combine, Boyd has been put through dozen of interviews with NFL executives and coaches with a lot of the same questions coming up.
“I am just trying to sell to them that I am a great player and impact player — a No. 1 guy who can come in right away and improve their organization,” Boyd said.
Matt Miller, a respected NFL draft analyst and lead writer for Bleacher Report, tweeted earlier in the week that Boyd's off-field issues still are a concern to some NFL executives.
“Tyler Boyd is a very good receiver, and a very smooth route runner, but off-field questions weigh heavily right now,” Miller tweeted.
Boyd has the talent and long-term résumé to power through the negativity.
“I believe my ability is suited best to do it all,” Boyd said. “From the return game and the receiver game, to the jet sweeps or pitches or anything, I believe I'm a hardcore athlete.”
Boyd had a record-setting three years at Pitt. He left with the most receptions and yards in school history, despite not playing the position much during a stellar high school career and having three different quarterbacks in his three years at Pitt.
He became the first-ever ACC player to top 1,000 yards receiving as both a freshman and sophomore before coming up 74 yards short his junior season.
Draft analyst Mike Mayock sees Boyd as a “tough guy” receiver, who likely will be either a second- or third-rounder mostly because of his speed. A solid 40-yard dash time Saturday would go a long way toward pushing Boyd up the draft board.
Boyd averaged only 10.2 yards per catch last year and knows that's something that he will need to develop once he's in the league.
“The biggest improvement I need to make is my explosiveness,” Boyd said. “I am a smooth route runner and have great hands. If I can excel in my ability to be more explosive, I feel that my all-around game can excel.”
Boyd was a huge big-play guy in high school at Clairton. He set a state record with 117 touchdowns leading the Bears to four state championships and a 63-1 record in his four years.
Although that condensed circle of people Boyd referred to included some hometown people, Boyd said Clairton supports him more now than ever.
“I've gotten a huge amount of support since I have been here and off training. All my guys and family and old coaching staff were hitting me, making sure I am OK. I am sure I still have my whole city on my back.”