Brandon Boykin fractured his leg in the 2012 Senior Bowl while playing special teams. He needed surgery and had a pair of screws inserted. That was in February. The injury prevented him from participating in the combine or holding a pro day, but the Georgia product received no indication that the injury would negatively affect his draft stock.
Speaking with some NFL teams leading up to April’s draft, he was told that he was projected to go between No. 26 overall to early in the second round. Instead, he slipped all the way to the fourth round before being selected by the Eagles with the 123rd pick.
There were 12 corners taken before him, and he knows the names of each and every one of them. He sees them every day when he wakes up.
“I’ve got a list of all the corners that were taken before me,” he said. “My fiance made it and put it in our room, framed it. I told myself that I’d end up being better than all of them.
“There was no doubt in my mind that I was the best in the class.”
Those 12 players? Morris Claiborne, Stephon Gilmore, Dre Kirkpatrick, Janoris Jenkins, Casey Hayward, Trumaine Johnson, Josh Robinson, Jamell Fleming, Bill Bentley, Jayron Hosley, Omar Bolden and Coty Sensabaugh.
One thing Boykin has over all of them this year is picks. He finished the regular season tied for second in the NFL with six interceptions, and did so playing just 635 of a possible 1,233 snaps this season, or 51.5 percent of the time. While it may seem counter-intuitive to use one of the defense’s top playmakers only half the time, Billy Davis contends that Boykin has benefited from focusing exclusively on the slot.
“I really think — and I believe this — that one of the reasons that he’s grown like he’s grown and made the plays that he’s making is because we’ve allowed him to specialize and really focus on the nickel position and how to play,” said Davis. “He’s a young player that’s still growing and I think that is one of the things that we’ve done that I’m most happy with, and I understand he’s got a lot of interceptions and second in the league, but I think that’s a product of specialization and really knowing exactly and playing a position with confidence and that’s how you win.”
Boykin has not hidden his desire to be an every-down outside corner eventually, but is content with his role for the time being.
“I really don’t worry about that at all. It’s gotten us to where we’ve gotten and I know what my role is and everybody is kind of jelling, so it doesn’t matter to me,” he said.
Six interceptions this season. A game-sealing takeaway against the Cowboys on Sunday night. An NFC East title. Time to take down that list that hangs above the bed?
“It’s not like I’m going to say, ‘I got six picks so I’m good.’ Every year, until all of them are out of the league,” said Boykin. “Every single year. That doesn’t go away.”