Matt Waldman shares his RSP NFL Draft scouting report on Ravens wide receiver Miles Boykin, a rookie who teammate, and former Saint, Willie Snead has compared to Michael Thomas in terms of talent level and work ethic.
Miles Boykin, Notre Dame (6-4, 220)
Depth of Talent Score: 91.85 = Franchise Starter: Immediate production and leadership anchor.
D.K. Metcalf’s NFL Combine performance earned crazy buzz. It’s impressive to see a 6-3, 228-pound man who can run a 4.3-second, 40-Yard Dash, lift the bar 27 times on the Bench Press, and leap 40.5-inches vertically.
Those metrics reflect the athleticism Metcalf draws on when running deep routes, elevating for the ball, and fighting through contact. However, his 4.5-second, 20 Shuttle, and 7.38-second, 3-Cone are subpar times for an NFL player—not just among starting receivers, among all NFL players.
If you’re seeking a receiver who can work the deep perimeter but also run routes inside and find multiple solutions for yardage as an underneath receiver, that’s acceptable. However, you’re placing a higher priority on a prospect whose game is less predictable—even if that predictability is difficult to stop.
Boykin is that guy. And if the 40-Yard Dash wasn’t an event with sponsors sporting deep pockets— rewarding the fastest time with substantial money—we might see more time spent on why that is. Unfortunately, the prospect of a more nuanced discussion of metrics that wouldn’t be unintentionally misleading isn’t on the immediate horizon.
Compare Boykin and Metcalf’s metrics and it’s clear that Boykin’s athleticism includes fewer limitations than Metcalf’s and has similar high-end upside where Metcalf excelled. Boykin ran a 4.42-second, 40-Yard Dash; a sizzling 4.07-second, 20-Shuttle; a slot receiver-like 6.77-second, 3-Cone; and outleaped Metcalf by 3 inches when he earned 43.5 inches in the Vertical.
All of that acceleration, quickness, explosion, and leg strength comes in a 6-4, 220-pound frame that is required to run fast, stop fast, and change direction fast before and after catching the football. It makes Boykin a tremendous asset—and a more compelling all-around athlete than Metcalf. If advertising and ratings didn’t have sway big media analysis—especially in sports, which is often more about entertainment than hard-hitting news—Boykin’s NFL Combine would have completely overshadowed Metcalf’s in the public arena.
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Like [Hakeem] Butler, Boykin saw time on either side of the formation and in the slot. He’s quick with his hands and feet and has enough releases to earn separation in the NFL as he continues developing his game at the line of scrimmage.
He can reduce his shoulder, chop, double-swipe, or use an arm-over in conjunction with a rocker step or foot-fire releases of two-, three-, and four-steps. Boykin will also deliver a quick punch and then use the arm-over to clear his opponent. When he earns separation, Boykin often has the presence of mind to stack his opponent early in the route.
He understands how to manipulate the coverage with the shape of his stems so he’s pressuring the seams between defenders. He’ll often bait his coverage with a head fake at the top of his stems.
At this point in his development, Boykin’s speed breaks are better than his hard breaks, but he can perform both forms of turns at the top of a route. He gets his head around fast to find the ball. When he runs vertical routes, Boykin has an excellent stick that lands outside the shoulders of coverage and usually forces the defender to react in the wrong direction. He’s good at setting up crossover moves that create breaks across the defender’s face into open space.
If nothing about his game improves between this evaluation and the beginning of the NFL season, Boykin will have more success on routes that break downfield because of his physical skills, ability to defeat press coverage, and his acumen at the catch point.
Routes breaking back to the quarterback will have some inconsistencies because he has occasional lapses with the flatness of breaks on speed turns and he needs multiple steps to drop his weight into hard breaks.
Boykin can drop his weight, but he needs to trust his feet and legs to make a faster drop. This is a common phase of development young receivers have to go through.
Another occasional lapse is his stem length on timing routes where he’ll break too soon and not earn the proper depth on the route. None of these issues are significant enough to derail Boykin’s production potential.
More likely, he’ll experience isolated mistakes with route depth, break flatness, and not earning enough separation with hard breaks on curls, comebacks, and dig routes. Despite these minor issues, Boykin runs a good comeback route and it wouldn’t be surprising if he sees targets with this route early in his career.
Boykin has excellent hands. He’s consistent with fingertip technique at the catch point, extends his arms to attack the ball at an early window of arrival, and he can adjust high, low, or away from his frame with a wide radius.
Good hand-eye coordination and fluid movements help Boykin successfully make difficult adjustments to the ball, including difficult one-handed stabs at full speed on targets that require awkward and late turns from tight coverage.
He also executes demanding moves in fluid sequence when transitioning from receiver to runner. He can make an underhand catch with a significant extension of his arms while running away from the quarterback and then drop his pads under the contact of an oncoming defender.
Boykin also shields defenders effectively and drags his feet with good technique at the boundary. Like most receivers, Boykin will have the occasional focus drop when tight coverage extends an arm across his frame. Otherwise, his hands are reliable and dynamic.
Boykin shines after the catch. He has the elite stop-start quickness to turn inside or outside a defender playing over the top of him. Although not the professional wrestling monster Metcalf is, Boykin is a strong runner with low pad level and he extends through direct contact for extra yards.
He’ll break through wraps, bounce off occasional hits, and he’ll break some ankles with full-speed slalom cuts. Boykin uses the correct arm to protect the ball from pursuit, but he must keep his elbow tighter in the open field.
Boykin has upside as a blocker. He earns a square position on a consistent basis and can deliver a good punch with force. He has dropped an outside linebacker with this technique and he’ll routinely earn pushes on weakside linebackers with his position and punch.
Like Hakeem Butler, Boykin uses a jab as his strike and must learn to uppercut and latch onto the defender after the punch. This will give him greater control, which is needed if he’s used to block at the line of scrimmage or sustain stalk blocks.
Boykin should earn a significant role in an offense as a rookie. If he’s paired with an accurate and aggressive vertical thrower, he could generate a lot more excitement than college football fans saw from him at Notre Dame.
If not, he’s capable of earning strong volume as a possession-plus threat who will supplement his production with deep plays or forays through a defense for longer gains on shorter targets. If Boykin was in last year’s class, he would have been the top receiver on the board and earned the highest grade the RSP has given since it began using Depth of Talent Scoring.
Pre-NFL Draft Fantasy Advice: The likely question at the top of dynasty drafts will be Metcalf or Butler. If you prefer Butler but you’re comfortable dropping a few picks lower than what is necessary to land him, Boykin is a great consolation prize who could easily outplay the player you wanted most.
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