Pitt’s Tyler Boyd will be the next great Panther in the NFL


Pitt’s decorated wide receiver Tyler Boyd announced his intentions to forego his senior season on Friday and will enter the 2016 NFL Draft.

When you think of Pitt players currently in the NFL, Larry Fitzgerald, Darrelle Revis, LeSean McCoy and Aaron Donald come to mind.

More than likely, you can add Tyler Boyd to this exclusive list, as I believe he will instantly make an impact at the next level.

According to Tribune-Review staff writer Kevin Gorman, the 6-foot-2, 200-pound junior wide receiver from Clairton announced his intentions to declare for the NFL draft Friday afternoon in an e-mail.

Head coach Pat Narduzzi and the coaching staff attempted to persuade Boyd to return for his final season, as his draft stock indicated a grade of 2.  Most likely, he’ll be drafted on day 2 in the second round, and Narduzzi figured he could become a first rounder if he returned for more experience.

Of course, I would have enjoyed him returning for his senior season in a year where Pitt plays Penn State, Oklahoma State, and Clemson, but he would take a huge risk of injury.  I thought that the idea of Conner’s return to Pitt and battle with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma would possibly drive Boyd to return to Pitt, but it is difficult to turn down millions of dollars.

There is no doubt in my mind that Boyd will be the next Pitt star in the NFL.  I attended nearly every home game the past three seasons, and he made unbelievable highlight-reel catches despite not having an elite quarterback each season.  In his freshman year, senior QB Tom Savage, who was drafted by the Texans, gave him the best chance to set freshman records.  Boyd will be able to showcase his skills with a talented QB in the NFL, but I hope it is not with Tom Brady.

My most memorable moment of his career was in the ACC opener against Florida State, where Boyd was a freshman and the soon-to-be National Champion Seminoles had trouble stopping him.  Boyd finishes his career second in Pitt history with 5,243 all-purpose yards.

I am sure that Tyler would have wanted to go out a winner in the Military Bowl, but he helped set the foundation for Pat Narduzzi.  In the bowl game, he finished with 6 receptions for 53 yards and 5 rushes for 55 yards in Pitt’s loss to Navy.

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Boyd will leave Pitt with the school record for career catches (254), breaking Devin Street’s 2013 record.  He also holds claim of the record for receiving yards (3,361) by surpassing Antonio Bryant’s mark set in 2001.

ESPN scout Todd McShay mentioned that Boyd has “very good” ball skills and body control.  He did add that “lack of elite speed will probably keep him out of the first round.”

Boyd has some of the best hands in the college game and he’ll be a dependable receiver in the NFL.

His 91 receptions for 926 yards and six touchdowns in 12 games this season were impressive despite missing one game.  He finished one reception shy of tying Fitzgerald’s single-season school reception record.

Boyd became the first player in ACC history to have back-to-back 1,000-yard receiving seasons as a freshman and sophomore, and he was the lone unanimous first team selection this season.

Boyd’s letter was heartfelt and can be found here,

"“I will be declaring for the 2016 NFL Draft.  But as I step out and begin my professional journey. I will always savor the moments we had All the support you gave me. And for making me a man. I will carry you with me. I will continue to make you proud & I promise to never forget where I came from.  As we both know, no matter what, I will always be the kid from Clairton that dreamed of catching that winning touchdown. Thank you for raising me Pittsburgh.”"

Boyd is the fifth-ranked receiver on Todd McShay’s positional rankings, and Mel Kiper Jr. ranks Boyd sixth at his position.

I believe Boyd will be the next great Panther in the NFL based on his 1) athleticism– hands and body control, shiftiness like LeSean McCoy, highlight-reel catches like Larry Fitzgerald, 2) toughness– he rarely missed playing time and was very durable and 3) his dedication to winning- he simply hates losing and guided Pitt to winning seasons.

There is no doubt in my mind that he’ll represent Pitt and his hometown of Clairton very well in the NFL.

Next: Pitt falls to Navy in Military Bowl

I just hope that the Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns, and Cincinnati Bengals do not draft him.