An athletic corner with good speed and burst that allows him to match up well with most he faces. Has quick feet and has a smooth backpedal. Comfortable working with the slot. Flashes burst and ball skills to keep things in front of him and drive on comeback throws. Shows ability to turn and locate the ball at the last second when his back is turned to the pass. Has the closing burst and makeup speed to overcome some of his issues, taking advantage of poorly thrown passes. Willing in run support and will come up off the edge and wrap up the ballcarrier to make the drag-down tackle. Flashes some burst as a blitzer off the edge or from the slot. A solid kickoff returner with the speed and burst to make big plays. Comfortable with the ball in his hands, able to make defenders miss and work as a situational running back on offense.
Doesn't have ideal size or strength to match up against bigger wideouts. His technique is sloppy and too often plays undisciplined due to superior athleticism. Doesn't play with great instincts. Gives up too much cushion because of sloppy technique, opening up his hips and giving up the underneath route. Gets caught out of position at times. Will get beat deep or give up inside position over the middle to allow receiver to go right past him. Misses too many stops in the open field. WIll tackle too high at times and get trucked at the point of attack. Struggles to get off blocks on the edge as well. Tends to be tentative in traffic as a kickoff returner and doesn't change direction well at times there. Lacks ideal vision and will dance too often rather than following his blocks as a returner. Isn't a reliable catcher on punt returns and makes questionable decisions.
Boykin is a capable slot receiver that has good athleticism and speed to be an effective matchup corner there. But he doesn't have the polished technique, discipline, or instincts to be top guy there. His value as a special teams returner however does make up somewhat for his less than ideal skills as a cover man. He's a playmaker especially when the ball is in his hands on offense or special teams. He does have the upside to be a starter at the next level, but unless he improves his technique and becomes a much more disciplined defender, he will likely only progress as far as being a nickel corner. He broke his leg at the Senior Bowl, and has missed much of the off-season. Hails from Fayetteville, GA.
2011 GAMES WATCHED:
(9/3) vs. Boise St: 4 targets, 3 rec., 24 yds (8.0 avg), 6 YAC (2.0 avg), 2 TDs, 1 PD; 1 missed tackle
(9/10) vs. South Carolina: 1 tgt., 0 rec. 0 yds, 0 TDs, 1 INT, 1 PD; 1 QB hit, 1 missed tackle, 2 key blocked
(12/3) vs. LSU: 5 tgt., 1 rec., 6 yds, 1 YAC, 0 TDs, 2 PD; 1 TFL, 2 missed tackles; 2 fumbles
2011: 14 GP/14 GS, 55 tackles, 11 TFLs, 0.0 sacks, 3 INTs, 9 PD, 2 FF, 0 FR; 103 rush yds, 14.7 avg, 1 TD; 5 rec., 71 yds, 14.2 avg, 2 TDs; 38 KOR-22.4 avg, 0 TDs; 14 PR-12.9 avg, 1 TDs
2010: 13/12-44-6.5-1.0-3-3-0-1; 34 KOR-24.3-1
2009: 13/12-54-2.5-0.0-3-6-0-0; 38 KOR-26.0-3
Boykin reminds me a bit of Javier Arenas who was a prolific returner at Alabama, and capable slot corner. He has gone on to be solid in both areas in the pros in Kansas City. And I think for any team that is targeting Boykin for the same role/value won't be disappointed. But for a team looking for a polished and consistent starter, I think they are setting themselves up to be disappointed. I just haven't seen the progress and development in coverage that you want to see to really think he's going to shine at the next level. He's a guy that has lived and died by his natural athleticism, which is more than capable of getting by at the collegiate level. But in the pros where everybody is an elite athlete and guys know how to run routes, Boykin probably will get exposed. Because of the proliferation of the spread at the pro level, teams need good slot corners more than ever. And while I don't Boykin is going to be an elite guy in that realm, I think he can be an effective slot guy that at least has the sort of athleticism to match up with the better slot receivers in the league. If he develops and continues to improve technically, then he can be considered an asset there. If not, at least he has his return abilities to fall back upon. I wouldn't trust him as a punt returner, although his skillset means he can make plays there. But he muffed too many kicks and made too many mental errors that I think it's going to take a significant time for his skills to translate and be trustworthy on punts. I think he can immediately add some value on kickoff returns. Arenas was a great college returner that has been mostly a solid NFL returner, and I think ultimately that is where Boykin will come out. He has big play ability, but because of his propensity to look for the big plays rather than being the disciplined, and steady guy he won't be the consistent threat there as well. If he goes to a team with solid veteran leadership in the secondary and a coach can get into his head and stress the importance of being a consistent player snap to snap, I think he can be a solid No. 3 corner that can be a competent stopgap as a No. 2 down the road. If he develops, I think he can be a Lardarius Webb-type of player. But he's probably several years away from that player, since Webb was more polished and allowed him to translate quickly as a role player. He has that sort of upside, but it also wouldn't surprise me if he goes a similar route as former teammate Asher Allen, which is an undisciplined player that gives up too many big plays and gets exposed too often to fully trust as anything more than a good No. 4 corner.
Javier Arenas, Chiefs.
Boykin is experienced enough working the slot that he could push for time there immediately. While he could make an effective rookie starter in the slot, he would probably be very inconsistent. And if Mike Nolan insists on more press man coverage in his scheme, Boykin probably isn't going to excel there long-term. Instead, he's more suited to more of off-man looks. He can develop as a role player in Atlanta, and his biggest value to the Falcons at least immediately will be as a kickoff returner. He's not as disciplined as Weems in terms of getting the consistent 25 yard gains, but his burst and quickness means he's more capable of breaking the longer gains. He's probably not a better candidate to contribute as a punt returner than either Franks or Douglas immediately but could eventually grow into that role down the road. The good thing about Boykin is that while he's not a guy that is going to contribute right away as a slot corner, if guys like Franks and Owens continue to struggle in that role, by the time the second half of 2012 rolls around you can be confident enough in Boykin's abilities to plug him in and not expect huge drop-off there. He's a good insurance policy to have in the slot, with some developmental upside. But if I was to bet on his future in Atlanta, Boykin would similarly be the inconsistent slot receiver, prone to give up the big plays. If he develops, then down the road you could put some trust in him to be able to contain a guy like Victor Cruz if stuck on an island. But that player is probably three or four years away from developing.
Boykin's ability to produce immediately as a slot corner probably merits a third round pick. If he was completely healthy, then he would not be a huge reach in the latter part of the second, especially for a team with an immediate need on special teams. But due to his inconsistency, lack of discipline, and injury most teams would find better value in the third or fourth round.
1-pathetic, 2-poor, 3-weak, 4-below average, 5-average, 6-above average, 7-good, 8-very good, 9-excellent, 10-elite
Man Coverage: 6.5
Zone Coverage: 5.0
Ball Skills: 6.0
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.