It is fortunate that NFL scouts have plenty of film on former Georgia standout Brandon Boykin.
Because they do, the leg injury he suffered in the Senior Bowl should not hurt his draft status. He’s projected to go in the second or third round of the NFL draft, which will be held April 26-28 in New York City.
It is possible that he could land with the Falcons, who have the 55th overall pick. They traded their first-round pick as part of last year’s Julio Jones deal.
“Well, Boykin’s fast,” ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay said. “Every time I watch Boykin, [that’s] all I can think of. He’s just so fast. Everything he does is fast.”
It was that speed that drew attention to Boykin, who was streaming down the field on the South’s punt coverage unit on fateful play at the Senior Bowl.
With representatives of all of the NFL’s 32 teams in the stands, Boykin, was blocked
from the back and his right leg snapped up awkwardly. The Washington Redskins’ training staff took him for X-rays and the news was not good: a cracked fibula.
Boykin was unable to work out at the NFL scouting combine in late February nor at Georgia’s Pro Day in early March. Boykin, of Fayetteville, did weigh in at 181 pounds and lifted 225 pounds 16 times.
He still wants to run for NFL scouts, but hasn’t been cleared by Alabama specialist Dr. James Andrews. But if he can’t display all of his physical gifts, Boykin has an alternative plan to impress teams.
“The key for me is showing my intelligence [and] my knowledge of the game,” Boykin said. “Not being able to do everything at this point, that’s all I can really focus on. I can just tell them the things that I’m capable of, but mainly my film work will have to speak for itself.”
NFL teams like Boykin’s versatility. He played offense selectively at Georgia and had five career touchdowns on kick and punt returns. He even played some safety in the practices leading up to the Senior Bowl.
Boykin does have some scouting blemishes.
“His instincts need to improve,” McShay said. “He’s late diagnosing some throws. When they put him in the zone, he can get lost a little bit and that’s not really his strength.”
With the proper work in the film room, McShay believes those instincts can improve.
“He’s such a good athlete,” McShay said. “He can absolutely fly. His vertical leap is just insane. If you watch the Spud Webb YouTube [video], just look up ‘Brandon Boykin dunk contest.’ I stumbled on it a couple years ago when I started looking at him and it’s amazing.”
With the NFL evolution into more of a passing league, teams are placing a premium on finding good defensive backs. As many as four cornerbacks and one safety are projected to go in the first round.
LSU’s Morris Claiborne, South Carolina’s Stephon Gilmore and Alabama’s Dre Kirkpatrick, all cornerbacks, will likely go in the first round. Alabama safety Mark Barron also will likely go in the first round.
Cornerback Janoris Jenkins, who finished his career at North Alabama after being expelled from Florida, has first-round talent, but his background check is filled with red flags.
“When you put it all together with him playing the one year at North Alabama, he did play very effectively there,” ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper said. “There are some other corners that may have jumped a little bit ahead. I still have him the first round, barely, going to New England.”
Jenkins has been arrested several times and marijuana possession led to his exit from Florida. He also has four children with three different women.
“I don’t know if the juice is worth the squeeze with this kid. And it’s unfortunate because he’s so gifted and he has such a bright future if he can get away from all the things that are bringing him down and the people around him,” McShay said.
Kiper also said that two other corners — Louisiana-Lafayette’s Dwight Bentley and Montana’s Trumaine Johnson — are shooting up some draft boards.
McShay considers Boykin to be in the next group of cornerbacks, with Virginia Tech’s Jayron Hosley, Virginia’s Chase Minnifield, Central Florida’s Josh Robinson and Nebraska’s Alfonzo Dennard.
“I wouldn’t draft him until the third round,” McShay said of Dennard, who played at Wilcox County High. “But he’s instinctive. He’s tough. He’s physical. I think if you protect him vertically, he has a chance to be a pretty good player.”
–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog