The Ravens are in an interesting spot with their offense in that it’s being built in a highly unconventional way, with a lot of high-end hyper-athletic chess pieces. Two important such figures are the wide receivers they took in the draft back in April, Marquise Brown and Miles Boykin.
We already showed you how Hollywood could be best used by offensive coordinator Greg Roman, so now we’re going to take a similar look at Boykin’s days with Notre Dame to try and do the same thing. There are plenty of ways in which the team could use the 6-foot-4, 220-pound specimen this season, so lets try to narrow it down to which will be the best few:
Red Zone Threat
I mentioned his height and weight earlier, and for good reason — it’s part of what got him drafted. Physical ability is only important if you know how to use it though and Boykin appears to, based upon some of his better plays for the Irish.
The above gif is a touchdown against Northwestern that displays how using a guy like Boykin’s strike zone properly can be deadly when throwing to the endzone. It’s just a simple post route but he runs it in such a way that he’s able to lose the linebacker in the initial zone and set himself up to make the play.
Coverage will be tighter more often in the NFL than what he saw here, but with his high pointing ability, it may not matter in every situation anyway. In this scenario, the ball is thrown perfectly for him to go up and grab the ball out of the air with his hands, something that shorter safeties and corners will have difficulty defending if the ball placement is similar to what you see above.
He doesn’t have to be just a high point specialist within the 20 though. He tested out very well at the combine for a reason, and his athletic profile suggests he may be more than just a jump ball guy; for someone his size, he’s also pretty good with the ball in his hands, which you’ll see below:
Watching Boykin, you’ll notice just how much work he does in the slot despite not cutting the ideal figure to do so. Apparently, it works for him, as both of these scores came from that position.
These types of plays compliment each other well though; Boykin is always a threat to go running up the seam and high point the ball over a smaller defender, so teams are forced to respect him. As a result, they’ll be understandably caught off guard when something like a wide receiver screen gets thrown his way, which allows for plays like the second clip to come open as it did.
Diverse usage of Boykin plus Baltimore’s run heavy scheme will definitely keep teams guessing in regards to how they’re going to make use of him from sequence to sequence when it comes to the red zone. Regardless, the Ravens were certainly hoping to get a lot out of big number 80 down inside the 20 yard line when they picked him in the third round.
Boykin’s size and natural hand catching ability makes him a bit of a matchup nightmare when it comes to one on one situations on the outside. Continuing off of him as a red zone threat and heading into his abilities on the outside:
While the fade route has it’s fair share of haters, a player like Boykin is the perfect guy to run it with. His aggression towards snatching the ball in when in single coverage really helps him to win these matchups.
Like I said before though, he isn’t just a matchup based jump ball guy; with proper play calling and usage, he can also beat zones down the field effectively:
For context on this one, Notre Dame had consistently been running a short out route to the left with Boykin who was turning them into gain after gain, which eventually causes a defense to tighten up on that area of the field. As a result, the defender with the short coverage was just enough out of position that Ian Book was able to fit it into the window and allow for Boykin to snatch it and run after the catch.
Sequencing is a very underrated and important aspect of play calling. Running certain things to set up something different is something Roman will want to get used to doing, especially when it comes to setting up such an unconventional passing attack.
Having said that, talent is crucial as well, and Boykin certainly has it. His ability to win physical contested catch battles is something the Ravens haven’t had in a good long while...
...That’s some Anquan Boldin level phone-boothery right there.
While it may appear relatively simple in terms of making use of such a talented player, Roman would be wise to look back at how Notre Dame had success doing so. Namely, utilizing his unique frame and athleticism, sequencing plays in order to help free him up down the field against zone, and simply chucking it up to him here and there and hoping he comes down with it.
We’ll be seeing more of how that takes place soon enough as training camp opens, but for now all we can do is speculate.