Cincinnati Bengals fans are eager to see what former Pitt wide receiver Tyler Boyd can do. Cincy Jungle, SB Nation's Bengals establishment, has been covering Boyd quite a bit since he was taken by the team in the NFL draft earlier this season.
Cincy Jungle recently opened a poll to determine fan preferences for the No. 2 receiver and, as you might imagine, Boyd topped veteran Brandon LaFell, who the team brought in this offseason. As of Thursday, he was leading the poll receiving 60% of the vote to LaFell's 40%.
That's not much of a surprise since many fans always want to see what the rookies can do. But Boyd at No. 2 makes good sense for Cincinnati as well. Now 29, Lafell will be in his seventh season. That's hardly over the hill for an NFL wideout, but LaFell hasn't to date produced the type of big numbers that would make you think he will do so in Cincinnati. While he did have a career year of sorts in New England two seasons ago (74 catches for 953 yards), he's never had a 1,000-yard season while playing most of his career with Tom Brady and Cam Newton.
None of that is to knock LaFell necessarily, but the point is that while capable, he's hardly a star. In his six NFL seasons he's only topped the 50-catch mark one time and has mostly been in the range of a 40-catch, 600-yard guy. He would have had a bigger year last season if he hadn't missed several games due to injury, but assuming Boyd can handle it, there's good reason to see why fans would rather give that role to him. At least with Boyd the potential for a big season would exist and it also makes sense to give him as many early reps with quarterback Andy Dalton as possible so that he's ready by the end of the season and, perhaps, a playoff run.
Boyd doesn't deserve to start over LaFell simply because he's a rookie. However, if he proves much of anything in training camp, it makes sense to give him the nod early on to see if he can handle it.