The 2019 NFL combine may have come and gone, but it has left its footprint behind with some very good athletic results. Other results left us scratching our heads. Those who have watched game film of these prospects for a long time find ourselves confused with the testing numbers that took place in Indianapolis. What can we take from these performances and where does that leave us with our evaluations in our grades of some of these prospects after the combine?
Let’s take an in-depth look at Notre Dame wide receiver Miles Boykin who absolutely destroyed the combine with near elite numbers. As an evaluator and Notre Dame fan, this was a big head-scratcher, but if we work all the way back to his high school athleticism numbers, the evidence was right in front of us. When we look back at his high school testing results, it is easy to begin wondering how this was missed.
The first three years of Boykin’s Notre Dame career were unimpressive and at times he even looked lost on the field. It may have taken until his senior season, but 2018 was a great year for Boykin and it came with QB Ian Book at the helm who took the starting job from Brandon Wimbush. The chemistry between Book and Boykin accelerated both of their performances throughout the 2018 season which also caught the eyes of the draft community.
During Boykin’s freshman season at Notre Dame, he spent the season on the scout team and did not see playing time his freshman season.
During his sophomore season, he never had more than two catches in a game which he produced versus Syracuse for 36 yards. In that game, Deshone Kizer threw for 471 yards and 3 TDs with one interception. Equanimeous St. Brown had a nice game with four receptions for 182 yards and a pair of TDs. Boykin was challenged for an opportunity in this game by Kevin Stephenson and Torii Hunter.
During Boykin’s junior year, only in the Citrus Bowl vs. LSU did he have three receptions, the most receptions he totaled in a game the whole season. He made an incredible one-handed catch for a TD to win the game for Notre Dame. Not only was it an impressive catch, but he was also able to do it versus Carolina Panthers second-round pick Donte Jackson.
This is the infamous one-handed spectacular TD catch by Miles Boykin to win the game with just over one minute left vs LSU. Again, he wins vs Donte Jackson, now with the Carolina Panthers. This play also begins the questioning of his speed as seen here after the catch #NFLDraft pic.twitter.com/yHt4neTp30
— Jason DiRienzo (@allpurposescout) March 5, 2019
Doing some in depth film study on Miles Boykin tonight. Here we see Donte Jackson (2nd rnd pick of the Panthers) covering Boykin hip to hip until Boykin stunts the inside & breaks to the perimeter on a deep out route making a nice sideline catch. Jackson also comes away cramping pic.twitter.com/MPU43mmHe2
— Jason DiRienzo (@allpurposescout) March 5, 2019
This game did wonders for Boykin as it helped him gain his confidence and chemistry with Book. Equanimeous St. Brown only had 47 yards in this game, leaving Boykin the number one receiver versus an SEC team. This play also led to questioning of acceleration after the catch and second level play speed.
The 2018 season was a breakout year for Miles Boykin as he posted a 30.12% dominator rating and tripled almost all of his stats from the 2017 season. Some may wonder whether it was Brandon Wimbush that limited Boykin’s production but in the second game of the 2018 season versus Ball State, Boykin went off with six receptions for 119 yards, with Wimbush under center. His best game that season was versus Stanford when he posted 11 receptions for 144 yards and one TD.
Interestingly enough, Equanimeous St. Brown had his most successful game vs. Stanford in 2017 with five receptions for 111 yards and a TD. When comparing what Equanimeous St. Brown did with Deshone Kizer in 2016 vs. Brandon Wimbush in 2017, it is easy to see how the QB play at Notre Dame had an effect on the receiving production.
When reviewing all the game film, analytics, combine results and context involved, there is an evident result that comes to play when projecting Boykin at the next level. First, the amount of time it took for Boykin to come into his own at Notre Dame is alarming. When comparing Michael Floyd’s production as a senior to Boykin’s, it’s concerning that there wasn’t more consistency when the depth chart wasn’t filled with talent that challenged an athletic profile and talent such as Boykin.
The second argument would be quarterback play. As the evidence would provide, Boykin was successful on a limited basis with all quarterbacks he played with. Lastly, the inconsistency within his production in four years is concerning. He had big-time plays and flashed very good talent in some games and disappeared in others.
The result that I come to is that Boykin possesses a ton of untapped potential and his athleticism wasn’t used to its full potential at the collegiate level. I still believe that he needs to learn the nuances of the receiver position, increase his knowledge of a full route tree and add to his limited arsenal of release moves vs. press coverage.
Looking at some of the comparison profiles, Allen Robinson stands out but his 40 time isn’t near what Boykin produced. On the flip side, Robinson was a nuanced route runner and produced two years of excellent production at Penn State.
Where Boykin projects at the next level is as a backup with early starting potential. He could be a really nice fit as a replacement for Devin Funchess for the Carolina Panthers and a nice weapon for the strong-armed Cam Newton. Landing spot and scheme will be critical for him just like most receivers in this draft, but the amount of time it took him to gain confidence at the position in four years is concerning which could mean he needs a few years leading to him as another year three breakout candidate.