The incoming class of rookie receivers are highlighted by D.K. Metcalf, but Miles Boykin of Notre Dame should be garnering more attention.
Miles Boykin caught the attention of the NFL Draft world when he tested as an otherworldly athlete at this year’s NFL Combine.
At a towering 6-foot-4 inches and 220 pounds, Boykin ran a 4.42 40-yard dash (top 20 for the entire combine), jumped 43.5 inches in the vertical jump (first among WRs), and leaped 140 inches (second among WRs) in the broad jump. Not only did he show his explosion, but Boykin followed those tests with a 6.77 3-cone (tops of all WRs) and a 4.07 short shuttle (third among WRs).
These numbers undoubtedly place Boykin in an elite class of athlete. This rare athletic profile earned Boykin the status of a perfect SPARQ score of 150, which is the number of standard deviations above the mean for his position in the NFL. Other 3-sigma athletes include, J.J. Watt, Calvin Johnson and Byron Jones.
Boykin has not received the post-combine rise as others have, nor has he received his proper ranking in the consensus of this year’s class of wideouts. There are a number of reasons why, but the biggest one is due to playing in an anemic, run-first offense with inconsistent quarterback play. Despite not being featured, Boykin still caught 59 passes for 872 yards and eight touchdowns.
For comparisons sake, his production is eerily similar to that of Dante Pettis, who was the third wide receiver off the board in the 2018 NFL Draft. In Pettis’ senior season he caught 63 passes for 761 yards and seven touchdowns. The lack of high-level production should not deter teams from taking a look at this exciting player in the early rounds.
Separation, Speed and Explosiveness
What immediately translates from college to the NFL is the ability to separate. Speed and explosiveness are sufficient but not necessary to become a great separator. Luckily for Boykin, he has both.
One knock on Boykin is that his speed does not show up on tape. I vehemently disagree. A fast person with long legs and a longer stride will look slower than a shorter player because they are not taking as many steps. The speed for a taller person such as Boykin is masked by his length. This next clip is a good example.
Here, Boykin immediately beats his man off the line of scrimmage, gains separation and the cornerback has no shot. If not for the poorly thrown ball, this is an easy touchdown over the middle of the field. Boykin’s tape is littered with undercooked passes from his quarterback that erased opportunities for production.
On this play, Boykin runs a post route and beats the safety deep.This should have been an easy touchdown but his quarterback was unable to deliver an accurate ball.
Boykin tends to get separation deep and over the middle of the field, but off-target throws like the above kept him from converting those opportunities into more.
Red zone weapon
Boykin can be used in a variety of ways in the red zone. He can play outside or inside.
The defender gets beat hard inside as Boykin explodes off his plant foot.
Lines up in this slot here running a short corner to the back of the endzone. Displays great hands and spatial awareness finding the open space in the zone for the score.
Football IQ and YAC ability
Boykin has a knack for finding open space. He also shows a high football IQ. On this play he notices the defenders leaving him to chase the Quarterback. He quickly turns upfield to give his quarterback an outlet. Being hard to take down once he gets moving, he takes this one to the house.
One play that really stands out is his one handed grab against LSU. Smaller defenders do not stand a chance. But he has the ability to make guys miss, which is rare for a wide receiver of his size.
Poor throws, a run-first offense and lack of being featured kept Boykin from truly shining at Notre Dame. His talent level is off the charts and we have seen but a mere glimpse of what he is capable of. One can only imagine what level of production he would have if he played in a more dynamic offense or simply had a better quarterback.
His athletic profile is more rare than that of D.K. Metcalf — who is a marvel in his own right — and he has higher production than Metcalf who is seen as the top receiver in the draft.
Boykin is being overlooked as a dynamic playmaker that can contribute immediately in the NFL as a split-end or flanker but can also move inside to play the big slot. He will make his money over the middle of the field in a modern NFL offense.
Boykin will have to work on sinking his hips more out of his breaks and diversifying his releases off the line of scrimmage, but it would not surprise me if he ends up being the best receiver to come out of this draft.