After years of failed attempts at finding and developing productive players at the position, it’s difficult for Ravens followers to get too excited when the latest offseason standout wide receiver pops up. This year, that player has so far been Miles Boykin.
Boykin, whom the Ravens traded up to select in the third round of this year’s draft, has been killing it thus far in training camp. Between impressive route-running and highlight catches against some of the team’s starting corners, Boykin has been getting high praise from his teammates and coaches alike.
In the absence of first-round Marquise Brown, Boykin has been the most hollywood-esque player on the field and is generating a lot of buzz in both the local and national spotlight. Is it too early to pencil in a huge rookie season for the Notre Dame product? Sure, after all we’re only five practices in through training camp.
Boykin could begin to tail off a bit or struggle in the preseason and then begins an entirely new conversation. However, it’s difficult to envision that happening. There’s a reason Eric DeCosta and the organization’s brain trust felt inclined to give up draft capital to acquire Boykin. He has all the tools to be a productive receiver in the NFL.
His athletic traits have been well-documented. One of the most impressive performers at the scouting combine and in the history of the event, Boykin measured in at 6’4” and ran a 4.42 in the 40-yard dash. Despite his top-end testing, Boykin still flew a bit under the radar given his lack of elite production at the college level.
The 22-year old amassed just 1,206 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns in three seasons for the fighting irish. The majority of these numbers came during his breakout junior campaign, when he led the team with 59 receptions, 872 yards and eight scores. After posting three one-reception games in the first four weeks of the season, Boykin proceed to catch three or more receptions and break 30+ receiving yards in the remaining nine games.
The momentum Boykin gained during his final collegiate season has only continued into his first NFL offseason. After some initial inconsistency as he adjusted to the pro level, Boykin has transitioned into training camp with little bumps in the road. Here are some his best plays from the past several days.
Nice adjustment to snag the back-shoulder catch in the endzone:
One on one rep for Miles Boykin. One of his many great reps today. pic.twitter.com/9Vz4vPXVXZ— Spencer N. Schultz (@ravens4dummies) July 28, 2019
Creating separation with ease on a slant route against Maurice Canady:
Lamar Jackson to rookie Miles Boykin in Friday’s practice pic.twitter.com/6oyEi0b0M2— Jamison Hensley (@jamisonhensley) July 26, 2019
Beating Jimmy Smith deep downfield in front of a packed M&T Bank Stadium:
Baltimore has long lacked consistent, impactful receivers on the outside who can consistently create separation and make tough catches. Marquise Brown may very well be that guy, but so too could Boykin - in which case the Ravens have a dynamic 1-2 punch.
A knock on Boykin coming out of college was in fact creating separation, as there were concerns that he’d struggle in this department against NFL-caliber corners. Thus far in training camp, however, we’ve seen him do just that with ease against probably the best secondary in the league, both in terms of talent and depth.
The learning curve doesn’t appear too steep for Boykin, who, by all accounts, seems pretty mature for a 22-year old rookie. He comes from a successful and established collegiate program in Notre Dame and now enters a well-structured organization in Baltimore. Boykin is a relatively quiet guy who simply goes about his business. His impressive character and work ethic are valuable traits and further reason to be excited about his potential.
Boykin has a great opportunity to make a big impact in his first year. Assuming “Hollywood” progresses to full health and steps into his projected role as the team’s “X” wideout, Boykin’s primary competition for the other remaining starting receiver spot are veterans Chris Moore and Seth Roberts. While both Moore and Roberts bring some positive qualities to the table, neither has accomplished all that much in the NFL.
The first-year Boykin has significantly higher upside than Moore and Roberts and might actually be the more capable playmaker right now. If he continues to impress in camp and through the preseason, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Boykin secure a starting role on the outside alongside Brown and Willie Snead IV.
Boykin’s standout play in training camp has caught the attention of his peers, most notably Snead and Jimmy Smith.
Snead went even further in his praise for Boykin. Addressing the media on Monday, the team’s starting slot receiver drew a comparison between Boykin and his former teammate Saints teammate Michael Thomas, a perennial Pro Bowler and All-Pro wide receiver.
“I remember when Michael Thomas came to New Orleans,” said Snead. “He was built the same. He had the same mentality, just trying to get better everyday.”
Snead played with Thomas for two seasons and the fact that he sees similarities in Boykin and one of the league’s top receivers is encouraging. Will Boykin have the same impact impact that Thomas did his rookie season (92 REC, 1,137 yards, 9 TD’s)? Maybe not. Will he ever even become that type of player? Who knows.
No, Boykin isn’t Michael Thomas - he’s just Miles Boykin. And based on everything we’ve seen thus far and where he’s headed, that’s perfectly fine.