After getting shut out in the first round, the Bengals dipped into the second round Friday night and drafted what very well could be their Opening Day slot receiver in Pittsburgh's Tyler Boyd with the 55th pick.
They followed that up in the third round with the selection of Utah State linebacker Nick Vigil, a 6-2, 230-pounder that immediately injects the linebacker corps with speed and youth. Vigil, who has a brother who is an NFL linebacker (Zach), is viewed as league-ready and is a bright, instintive guy that can play outside or inside in a 4-3. As a junior last season, he racked up 140 tackles. With Oklahoma's Sterling Shepard and Ohio State's Michael Thomas going ahead of them, the Bengals were quickly running out of options in an early part of a draft uncharacteristically thin at receiver. But Boyd gave them one last shot for an immediate contributor before the skelton mid-rounds. In the last eight Bengals' drafts, only perennial Pro Bowler A.J. Green and Boyd are the two receivers they've taken in the top two rounds.
The 6-2, 200-pound Boyd fits many of the Bengals' size and speed specs when it comes to a wide receiver to replace Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu. With veteran Brandon LaFell lining up opposite Green, Boyd can slide into Sanu's slot after a career he broke all of Larry Fitzgerald's freshman records during a career he started all three years.
Offensive coordinator Ken Zampese said the Bengals won't hand the slot job to Boyd, but that his quickest way to get on the field is inside while working on his outside game.
The knock against him is he didn't run many long routes, but he was a very productive guy for the Panthers and left as their all-time leading receiver.
The Bengals don't want to compare him to Sanu but, as receivers coach James Urban said, "There are Sanu-esque things that he provides. You can poke holes in the 40 time (4.5ish), but we like to attract football players and I think we've got a good football player. We'll take advantage of his skill set."
Boyd did everything for the Panthers from catching it to running it to returning it as he became the school's second all-time career yardage leader behind only Tony Dorsett. The only thing he didn't do was go long consistently with the deep ball. Although he returned both kicks and punts, it doesn't look like the Bengals envision him doing it that much, if at all.
"He's not a finished product, but he's ours and we like him," Zampese said. "You wouldn't look at timed speed and say he's going to run by that guy all the time. But he's been productive with what he's been asked to do."
Boyd is certainly a confident sort.
"I'm happy the Bengals chose a great player like myself," Boyd said. "I put myself in position to win and run good routes, keep plays alive. I'm a huge playmaker."
Asked how he rated his blocking, he offered "an eight."
He's Western Pennsylvania all the way through, from Clairton, Pa., and said there is probably a picture of him somewhere as a little kid wearing a Hines Ward jersey.
"His ideal NFL fit is the slot in a role similar to Dolphins standout Jarvis Landry," CBS.com says. "Boyd is an exquisite catcher of the football and able to stand out by paying attention to the details, putting his value in the top 50 range."
Boyd can only hope his career comes close to the man who announced the pick in Chicago, four-time Bengals Pro Bowl wide receiver Isaac Curtis.
As for the Vigil pick, he was announced by Bengals left end Carlos Dunlap, draped in his University of Florida graduation gown to be worn this weekend. He got the call as the Bengals' reigning Walter Payton Man of the Year winner.
"That was awesome," said defensive coordinator Paul Guenther. "Congratulations to Carlos."
Head coach Marvin Lewis said Vigil has a chance to be a three-down player, which is one of the many reasons they love this red-shirt junior. He's also a guy heavily endorsed by special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons because of his speed. Guenther raved about his 4.66-second shuttle time and linebackers coach Jim Haslett said he's a guy that fits every spot in the Bengals 4-3 defense.
"Their defense was ranked as a whole 17th in the country. They've got some pretty good linebackers," Haslett said. "He's got great speed."
Guenther said Vigil "can do a lof different things. Cover, run . . . We can teach him all three spots."
The Bengals compare his instinctive, versatile style to Carolina Pro Bowl middle linebacker Luke Kuechly. He was the only player in the country last year to have at least nine tackles in every regular-season game.
"We're not comparing him to Kuechly," Guenther said. "He'll have to come in here and win a spot."
Vigil, who started in base at middle backer and moved outisde to WILL on passing downs, he didn't talk to anyone from the Bengals during the process and was surprised to get the call. He said he was expecting the fourth round, but his agent told him anywhere from mid-third to mid-fifth.
He was so versatile the offensive coaches came up a package for him as a tailback in short-yardage and goal-line situations. He carried the ball
"Those days are gone," Vigil said. "I'm glad because I wasn't a very good running back."
Zach, an All-American linebacker at Utah State who was a free agent last year and is with the Dolphins and now they have a date on national TV in September on NFL Network.
"A little brotherly rivalry," said Nick of the tandem that grew up in Plain City, Utah.
With the 55th pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, the Bengals select Tyler Boyd from Pittsburgh