Notre Dame’s Miles Boykins moves far up in the receiving line
Miles Boykin is on the fast track.
The Notre Dame wide receiver was thought by many to be a middle-round project pick in the NFL Draft before rocking it at the Combine.
The 6-foot-4-inch, 220-pound Boykin clocked a 4.42 in the 40, registered a 43.5-inch vertical leap, and measured 11 feet 8 inches in the broad jump.
“Those are tremendous numbers,’’ noted ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr.
“I think Miles Boykin is in my top 100 now,’’ said former Cowboys president of player personnel Gil Brandt, now a SiriusXM NFL analyst. “I think he shocked everybody — I was surprised anyway — by how fast he ran.”
As a result of those stats, Boykin rocketed up the roster of receivers looking to catch NFL eyes. The performance helped fill in a lot of the blanks scouts had after Boykin had just one season of production in South Bend. After collecting just 18 passes in 13 games his first two seasons, Boykin played 13 games in 2018, grabbing 59 passes for a team-high 872 yards and 8 touchdowns.
“I had to fight through a lot of adversity,” Boykin said. “I had a couple of finger injuries that kind of inhibited me from playing early in my career. But after that, I thought I took care of business. I grew as a player on and off the field and now I’m here.’’
“I thought he might be a third- or fourth-round pick coming into Indianapolis,’’ said Kiper. “You could make a case that no one prospect rose higher than Boykin, as he now has a chance to go near the top of Round 2.’’
Brandt believes Boykin is just the type of player that all teams are seeking.
“Everybody is looking for big wide receivers now because they create a mismatch,’’ he said.
Brandt said teams often try to counter big receivers with smaller corners who “can vertical jump 37 inches” but that strategy won’t necessarily work against Boykin.
“When you get a guy like Boykin, well, he can jump 37 vertical inches also,’’ said Brandt. “So, he’s a mismatch. I like him. I think he’s a really good football player and I thought he came alive that senior year.’’
Boykin also came up big in the three-cone drill (6.77 seconds) and the 20-yard shuttle (4.07 seconds) at the Combine. His athleticism is off the charts, according to former Buccaneers general manager Mark Dominik, who said those kind of stats are usually reserved for smaller receivers.
“When you start seeing those kind of change-of-direction numbers in the 20-shuttle and certainly the three-cone and you remind yourself of the size of Boykin . . . that’s where you start to get blown away,’’ he said.
Boykin’s decision to leave school with a year of eligibility remaining was met with some skepticism because of his limited body of work, but it seems sensible given his rapid rise.
“When I went to Notre Dame, I had two things I wanted to do, and that was graduate and win a national championship,’’ Boykin said. “We had a chance to win a national championship this year and it didn’t pan out the way we wanted it to.
“We had a great season, though, and I’m graduating in May, so I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish at Notre Dame. I couldn’t ask for anything more.’’
Boykin grew up idolizing another big receiver, ex-Lions star Calvin Johnson, and the two have had conversations about how to excel at the next level.
“He just talked about being a big-bodied receiver,” said Boykin. “The biggest thing is separation at the top of your route. Sometimes we’re not the fastest guys in the world, but we’re definitely going to be able to create separation at the top by being strong and physical.’’
The Patriots were among the teams that noticed Boykins’s breakthrough, as they had officials at his Pro Day and hosted him on a visit to Foxborough. He could be a logical fit as New England reworks its receiving corps. He also could learn from new addition Demaryius Thomas, a veteran pass catcher with similar size and athleticism.
Dominik believes Boykin could continue to build on his strong senior season and impressive Combine if he lands in the right spot.
“It’s the P words, right? It’s potential and production,’’ said Dominik. “Potential’s great, but if it doesn’t ever arrive, it turns into a bust. Production’s great — you know what the floor is but you’ve got to hope that the ceiling’s high.’’
The top wide receivers in the draft
Best of the rest: *J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Stanford (6-2, 225, n/a); *Hakeem Butler, Iowa State (6-5, 227, 4.48); *Antoine Wesley, Texas Tech (6-4, 206, n/a); Stanley Morgan Jr., Nebraska (6-0, 202, 4.53); Jalen Hurd, Baylor (6-4, 226, n/a); Hunter Renfrow, Clemson (5-10, 184, 4.59); *Mecole Hardman, Georgia (5-10, 187, 4.33); *Diontae Johnson, Toledo (5-10, 183, 4.53); *Preston Williams, Colorado State (6-4, 211, 4.59); *Darius Slayton, Auburn (6-1, 190, 4.39).