When Washington State's Cody Boyd went undrafted in April's NFL Draft, the big tight end knew Pittsburgh was where he wanted to be.
Much was made of the third-round selection by the Pittsburgh Steelers of
6-7, 270-pound tight end Matt Spaeth. Considering the team had just
selected Heath Miller in the first round of the draft two years earlier, the
selection of another tight end with a premium pick seemed a bit odd.
But the Steelers want to free Miller up to do more work as a receiver
instead of a blocker, hence the selection of a massive tight end with some blocking skills. As big as Spaeth is, however, he’s not the biggest rookie tight end with the team this season. That honor goes to Cody Boyd, a 6-8, 264-pound behemoth out of Washington State. A former basketball player at Washington State, Boyd looks more like a power forward than a football player. But the big guy has some football skills as well, even though he was just a one-year starter for the Cougars.
“We had a pretty good player a year ahead of me,” said Boyd,
referring to Troy Bienemann. "But when I got the chance to start, I produced.”
Despite missing two games with a high ankle sprain during his senior
season – an injury that was supposed to keep him out at least four games – Boyd hauled in 32 passes for 481 yards, a 15.0 average per catch, with two touchdowns.
“I can get down the field and catch the ball,” said Boyd. “I think
that’s what they liked about me. The Steelers were one of the teams that brought me in for a visit before the draft and I was hoping that I would end up here. I just had a good feeling about this place after being here and meeting with the coaches. I liked what they told me about the offense.”
So when Boyd was not selected in the draft, he let his agent know
that Pittsburgh was the place he wanted to be.
“I know they have Heath here, but I really believe there is an
opportunity here,” said Boyd. “It’s up to me to make the most of it.”
Boyd knows making the most of his chance will include showing that he
can handle blocking at the NFL level.
“I feel like I can do it,” he said. “I wasn’t asked to do a ton of
blocking in college, but I think the Steelers looked at my size and said, ‘Here’s a guy who’s 6-8 and can get down the field. With some NFL coaching, he could be a good blocker as well.’ It’s up to me.”
Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians plans on using more multiple tight
end sets than the Steelers have incorporated in the past, something that could open the door for another young tight end or two on the roster behind Miller and veteran Jerame Tuman. Boyd plans on forcing the Steelers’ coaches to take notice of him.
“The opportunity is all I’ve asked for,” he said. “I’ve gotten it,
now I just have to digest the playbook and be ready to go when we put the pads on.”
By Dale Lolley
10 July 2007