From everything head coach Kyle Shanahan has said, the San Francisco 49ers are going to invest in a wide receiver later this month during the NFL Draft. We’ve done three scouting reports on wide receivers. I’d like to change it up a little. Give you an idea of what I am seeing when I watch a player. So I decided to make a video on Boykin.
Today, that player is Miles Boykin of Notre Dame. The 6’4”, 220 pound receiver might have had the most eye-popping combine of any receiver present. 4.42 40-yard dash. 43.5 inch vertical. 6.77 3-cone. These things are not supposed to happen at that size. Boykin also passes the threshold for 49ers receivers. When it comes to Boykin and his ability on the field, the talent is there. One thing that I’m seeing when I see the rest of the draft community is Boykin being penalized for things he cannot control. In the video below, I want to debunk the myth that Boykin struggles to separate. That’s just not true.
I also think it’s important to understand what Notre Dame did on offense. The Fighting Irish is a “timing-based” passing attack. If a receiver runs a route and gets open, but the quarterback is late throwing him the ball, it looks like the receiver isn’t open. To me, Boykin was open a lot during his senior year. The quarterback play improved when the Irish made a switch, but the play was still hit and miss.
I think it also says a lot that—when Notre Dame faced their stiffest competition—the team leaned on Boykin early and often in those games. Stanford, Virginia Tech, and Syracuse. They made it a point to get Boykin the ball. To me, that means something. That tells you that the player is dependable and can be relied upon.
Boykin is far from perfect. He has plenty of flaws. I think he has to be more efficient when he goes to make a cut/break at the top of his routes. He takes too many steps. He’s not a dynamic player with the ball in his hands, either. He can get yardage due to his size and speed, but he’s not going to make you miss.
Boykin has shown the ability to get open often and in different ways. The toughest thing to understand is that bigger receivers aren’t going to be able to get open in the same way that a 5’10 receiver will. I think it’s also important to understand that these ginormous receivers are open even when they aren’t. Watch this, I’ll explain:
At one point during the Syracuse game, I believe, Boykin had 51 catches. 43 of those had gone for a 1st down or a touchdown. Moving the ball is the goal on offense. On 99 targets, Boykin had four dropped passes. They were all focus drops. His hands are not a concern.
Boykin also lined up in the slot 20% of the time. He was simply a mismatch when he lined up inside. His versatility should show early on as a rookie. Being able to win inside and outside goes a long ways when a coordinator doesn’t have to limit where you line up.
Boykin is a true vertical threat. He had 11 receptions in 2018 that were over 20 yards. That’s not him taking a screen and going 20 yards. That is actual air yards.
Boykin is one of the best fits in the draft for the 49ers. Not just because of his combine. Because of the offense he came from and his strengths. Boykin is tremendous with the ball in the air—as far as tracking, adjusting, and going up to make a play—which is an area the 49ers can improve at. With Kyle Shanahan running a heavy play-action offense, Boykin will be able to get “easy yards” in this offense.
Knowing that the Niners struggled in the red zone, a guy like Boykin should make for an obvious target. He will box you out in the end zone. Not to mention the amount of penalties he drew last year. It felt like once a game a flag was being thrown because a corner couldn’t contain Boykin. Yes, that’s exaggerating. No, not by much.
Boykin may not be a star but Dante Pettis didn’t seem like that either. Boykin is a very good receiver that—with better QB play—will go on to have a very productive NFL career. We haven’t talked about how dominant of a blocker he is. We have talked about his ablity to win at the line of scrimmage and when the ball is in the air. Those are two of the biggest areas of playing the position. Because of those, his strength and athleticism, Boykin is my favorite receiver in the draft.