Boykin Sees Limited Reps Against Jags

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Arguing the merits of moving Brandon Boykin outside is the equivalent of banging your head against the wall at this point. As Chip Kelly re-emphasized at his day-after press conference Monday, it’s not happening.

“It really is how we practice and he practices as our nickel corner.  It’s a very vital position for us.  Billy [Davis] said that that’s a starting position for us, I say that’s a starting position for us, that’s kind of where it is,” said Kelly. “Our third corner outside right now [behind Bradley Fletcher and Cary Williams] is Nolan Carroll.”

While the importance of the nickel corner position makes Boykin a starter in their mind, the fact remains that one of the team’s top playmakers sees a limited amount of reps in his current role. That was particularly true in the opener against Jacksonville, as Boykin played 23 of a possible 73 snaps, or 32 percent of the time.

That dip (he played 52 percent of the snaps on average last year) was tied to what the Jaguars were doing on offense, according to Kelly.

“They played a lot of 21 personnel and a lot of 12 personnel,” he said. “I think a lot of it had to do with, they only had four healthy receivers for the game and started two rookies out there and were trying to take pressure off of them, so they were in a lot more big personnel than I think they had shown even last year.  I think they were a little bit more wide open last year and a little bit tighter this year. 

“It’s probably an issue they were dealing with just from the receivers being hurt with [Cecil] Shorts going out just before our game and he got hurt sometime during the week and was on the [inactive list].  Sometimes games play out that way.”

The question is whether the offense should be able to dictate if one of your top defensive players sees the field.

Clearly, the Eagles value what Boykin gives them at the nickel corner spot (and as a special teamer; they view him as one of the top gunners in the league). It’s also true that they want their outside corners to have size and at 5-10, Boykin comes up shy in the measurables department. They see a league with a growing number of big wide receivers, and believe large corners are necessary to combat that trend.

The advantages of having a physical, imposing defensive backfield is on full display right now in Seattle. It also helps that the Seahawks corners (particularly the 6-3 Richard Sherman) are very talented. And as we look across the rest of the NFL, we see that talent at cornerback comes in all forms.

A quick scan of the NFL depth charts over at Ourlads shows that 33 of the 64 starting corners in the NFL (52 percent) are under six-foot. Nineteen of those (or 30 percent of starting outside corners in the league) check in at 5-10 or under, according to the site.

As has been recited many times, Boykin was second in the league with six interceptions last season (trailing only Sherman) despite being on the field half of the time. We saw on Sunday that his playing time in the current setup is largely dependent on which type of personnel the opposition deploys. And as Sheil did a good job of fleshing out back in August, the Eagles feel that they can run more base looks against three wide-receiver sets now that Malcolm Jenkins is in the fold. If that theory holds, Boykin’s snaps this year might actually go down despite a 2013 campaign that suggests that they should absolutely be going up.

“Brandon is a consummate professional,” said his agent, C.J. LaBoy. “He is a very intelligent and cerebral player. He is not the type of guy that is a ‘me’ guy, he wants what is best for the team. If that is for him to play nickel he will do it and do it very well.”

Boykin has a clear affinity towards Philadelphia and the Eagles organization. His hope is to play his entire career here should the stars align. This offseason could be a very interesting one from a business perspective, though. Boykin will be eligible for a new deal at the end of the season and if history is a guide, the front office will try to lock him up early. There will be many things to weigh, including whether his desire to remain in Philly long-term is greater than the desire to be a starting outside corner. And, of course, there is the financial end. Boykin might be a nickel corner here, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to extend him at nickel money necessarily.

“When that time comes, we as his representatives will not lose sight of his value and the projected value that his abilities and his productivity present,” said LaBoy. “We will not lose sight, whether he is an inside or outside corner, of what he has done and what he is capable of doing.”

Those matters are still a little ways away. Right now the focus is about what is happening on the field. As long as Boykin continues to play part time, many on the outside will continue to wonder why the Eagles’ best cornerback is not out there more.  It’s part of the conversation, however fruitless it may be.

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  • knighn

    It’s interesting, indicates Brandon Boykin’s height at 5’9″ and at 2%… meaning that 98% of the cornerbacks to come through the combine are taller than Brandon Boykin. He wasn’t that heavy either (10%). Not to say that is Gospel, but it does add another perspective.

    Brandon Boykin is a playmaker, no question. The relevant question: at what height / weight is a CB too small to play outside? Are there other NFL teams that feel this way?

    • damrvrhunter

      Love everything about the BoyKing just dont want him as my outside corner.

    • Uncle Wonder: grindin, Jack!

      What does that question really mean? That is the same as “at what height is a CB too big to play outside?” It’s not a matter to be viewed objectively. Each player stands on his own merits, but he needs to get the chance or else we will never know until he leaves in FA.

      • knighn

        I believe that players stand on their merits. I also believe there is eventually a height when a player may truly be too short to play. Are there a lot of other 5’9″ cornerbacks starting in the NFL?
        I will say this: when Boykin got the chance outside in pre-season he didn’t look as comfortable or as good.

  • damrvrhunter

    Stir, stir that pot

    • finishing just outside the money behind our trifecta: Vick-vs-Foles, Desean-got-cut, and Howie’s-a-reaching

      the long shot filly…


      • damrvrhunter

        All those fillies are ridden by hmm I mean trained by the famed “click-count”

      • Andy

        Don’t forget: sources say that Mathis may hold out.

  • Breathe 21

    He’s going to play plenty of snaps this weekend. All he has to do is show and prove. I’m not for a 5’9 corner starting on my team at CB. These WRs are too big. People like Calvin Johnson, D. Thomas, Julio Jones, Jordy Nelson, AJ Green, Alshon Jeffrey, Brandon Marshall, Dez Bryant, etc would eat him alive. He would have to use all the strength and vertical he has just to have a chance at getting a finger on a pass. The good thing about Kelly is he’s innovative enough to notice when to get ahead and adjust to things like this. The Seahawks were prepared. Everyone else is playing catchup.

    • damrvrhunter

      Speak the truth.

  • cliff h-MOAR white goons

    well, Indy is pretty much 3 wide all game. so, if he sees 72% of the snaps, it’ll be even steven after 2 weeks.

    • NickS, Combine Warrior

      Nice positive spin.

  • mtn_green

    Love Boykin. Eagles will pay him. Agent will sign cumbaya.

    No way eagles let a homegrown db talent go. Besides Watkins and Wolff all else are FA pickups.

    • aub32

      They let one of their all time best home grown WRs go due to measurable. So who knows. I hope they resign him though. I’ve got a jersey on hold, but I refuse to buy it until they lock him up long term. You hear that front office! If you want my money, resign Boykin!

      • knighn

        Sure. “Measureables” was the reason they let DeSean go:
        His paycheck was too large for a guy that was that big a pain in the ass. It was all about those measurables.

      • c’mon, that’s absurd aub, there is nothing at all similar about the Boykin and Desean situation other than the size. I don’t think we’ll be hearing about Brandon Bloods Boykin an hour before he’s cut

  • Zeus

    He doesn’t have to play outside all the time but I would love to see him mixed in. Especially when Cary is getting done in by undrafted guys.

    • MagatBrackendale

      Isn’t that a bit like saying the Math teacher loves music and plays the drums, let him replace the Music teacher sometimes? Of course the Math teacher can’t actually read music or know how to show correct finger placement to the sax player, but hey! let’s give it a try!

      • Show And Prove

        Not really. It’s more like, hey he’s our most talented defensive back, let’s have him on the field more than our less talented defensive backs..when he’s needed in the nickel..put him there and then fletcher/williams on the outside.

        But seriously, can someone answer why they aren’t doing that? Does the big people beat up little people motto come before versatility or something?

        • PhillyTeams

          Here is the answer that you asked for, SP:

          What Maggie, Kelly, and Davis are saying is that NCB and OCB are two very different positions.

          It’s just like ILB and OLB are two very different positions.

          And, CB and S are two very different positions. We can’t just say “Defensive Backs are Defensive Backs, play your best players”.

          Each position has unique requirements. Size requirements, quickness requirements, speed requirements, change of direction (hip swivel) requirements, leaping requirements, arm-length requirements, decision making requirements – – all unique to the OCB, NCB, and S positions in the defensive backfield. ie: the Math Teacher and the Music Teacher.

          We love Boykin. He has the ideal smarts and decision making required to recognize the offensive set, pre-snap movement, man-in-motion, and cover the 3rd WR (the SR), or the RB, or click into the zone call with ‘middle’ responsibilities.

          Boykin has the ideal size requirements and quickness requirements for a NCB to cover SRs and RBs.

          Playing OCB is different from NCB. Different recognition skills, different decision making, different size requirements, different coverage techniques.

          Each of these positions requires many, many practice reps, with the 1’s, to develop. NFL practice, getting enough reps (and there are only a defined number of reps available), is an overwhelmingly important factor.

          As Kelly said – “It really is how we practice and he practices as our nickel corner. It’s a very vital position for us. Billy [Davis] said that that’s a starting position for us, I say that’s a starting position for us, that’s kind of where it is,” said Kelly. “Our third corner outside right now [behind Bradley Fletcher and Cary Williams] is Nolan Carroll.”

          Now we understand what that means. And we understand what Maggie means. Hope this is helpful SP.

  • BlindChow

    I’d like to see him get a shot at outside corner when the team is in their base defense. If his size is shown to be an issue, then that’s that. If he plays as well as he does in the nickel, then maybe you move him inside in 3WR sets and let him play outside the rest of the snaps.

  • MagatBrackendale

    Can’t believe this. Boykin is PROVEN inside. There is no empirical proof that he can be outstanding outside. There is also no proof that he could play 100% of the snaps anywhere. While still playing STs. Remember, little people get more beat up? Tim, I hate to say it, but you’re sounding any awful lot like some of the fans, using some of your brain cells for less than 100% of the snaps. ;~)

    • Token

      If you had to be PROVEN then nobody would ever get a shot anywhere. What weird way to make an argument. Do you believe Boykin will not get offers from several teams? Honestly?

      A person who supports a guy like Boykin playing 20% of the time isnt a fan thats probably worth talking to. Probably a bit too much kool aid.

      Enjoy him for another couple years. Hes gone. I just wish they would trade the guy for whatever value they can get. What they are doing to him now just makes them look ridiculous.

      • MagatBrackendale

        A player generally proves his value at a particular position in TC or preseason, OR during his first year or two in the league. There are exceptions of course, but an intelligent coaching staff usually knows the probabilities about every player within a year. Or two. And, once again, they figure out where each player they inherit or draft will bring the most benefit to the TEAM. To help the team to win. Being realistic while wanting my favorite TEAM to win has nothing to do with koolaid OR total negativity.

        • Token

          So, can you tell me what Boykin could possibly do to prove himself more as a talented player?

          And exactly does sitting your most talented corner by far on the bench improve your TEAMS chances of winning?

          In your opinion does Boykin have more or less of a chance at being a high level starting OUTSIDE corner then Cary Williams or Bradley Fletcher?

          • anon

            he played outside in TC against the two’s wasn’t great. He’s a ballhawk let him make plays on the inside.

          • it really is a different skill set, token. the slot plays into all of BB’s strengths. He didn’t look too great outside in some camp and PS snaps.
            I definitely wish he was playing. But if sconces is getting benched, it’ll be due to NC2.
            I love the kid as much as anyone and really hope he gets on the field. To me, the Davis-base defense comment cut deepest since we know LB is still a weakness. If this really is Kendricks’ breakout year — combined with Meco needing to play less snaps this year — I’m all for MK wearing the headset on more nickel and dime looks.
            The Ginas and Panthers are also pretty thin at WR, but otherwise I’m sure teams will be spreading us out more. Plus, let’s optimistically assume that teams will also be throwing a lot to play catch up. Should result in BB getting greater % of snaps than this game.

          • DSjr11

            He struggled against the 2s on the outside and be had a worse PFF grade in the PS than fletch and Cary…I think that explains why he doesn’t play on the outside

  • Token

    “Clearly, the Eagles value what Boykin gives them at the nickel corner spot”

    Really, if what happened Sunday is a trend then that sentence isnt even true anymore. They preferred to have Jenkins in coverage. The coverage ability of Jenkins and Boykin is so far apart its laughable. Jenkins is preferred because of size period. I really hope this isnt their long term plan for the year. But I think I would bet that it is. I was worried before the year that Boykin could play even less. Especially with all the fluff talk Davis had about Jenkins and staying in base D. And drafting Watkins to essentially take Boykins spot, at least they hope.

    Not only does playing Boykin so little stunt the guys growth as a player, but it damages any return you could possibly get in a trade.

    This situation is stupid literally any way you look at it on the FO and coaching staffs part. It comes off as Chip cutting off his nose despite his face simply because Boykin doesnt fit a chart he has in his office of what size players should be at each spot. Talent be damned.

    • Warhound KnowsHstryWarts&All

      FWIW It’s “cutting off his nose to spite his face” :)

      • Andy Six Score and Four

        I thought it was “bite your nose to spite your face.”?

        • Clamdigger

          You can do that!?

          • Andy Six Score and Four

            Sure can. Can’t you?

    • NickS, Combine Warrior

      Maybe Chip’s trying to have him play less to bring his value down at contract talks? I got nothing, otherwise. You know where I stand in this.

    • DSjr11

      They tried him on the outside in TC and he struggled against the 2s and PS and in PS he had a worse PFF than fletch and Cary…don’t you think they tried or you just assumed they keep him in the slot for jokes? Think before you speak

  • anon

    why is this even a story? this has been the case for the last 18 months since ck got here, just accept what it is and move on. It’s like having yet another what life is like without Djax article.

  • Amar, CB who bought in

    Did anyone on see John Brown of the Cardinals play last night ? Caught a game winning touchdown and has been a pre-season standout.
    Eagles drafted Oregon player Josh Huff (5’11”) 5 picks before Cards got Pitt St 5’10” John Brown.
    Is this Oregon Bias or just WR measurable s clouding the teams judgement ?

    • Clamdigger

      Jesus, dude. Not every pick can be a stud. 30 other teams had 2 opportunities to take him before then if his greatness was so obvious.

      You do the best research you can and you make a decision based on what you see from players in college and then you hope they develop in to what you envision.

      If you knew exactly what every player would be by their college tape, there would be about 2.5 rounds of the NFL draft.

      • this x 1000. particularly amazing hindsight clarity, with just 1 RS game in the books.

        btw, MS2 is a bust.

        • Kleptolia

          You know who’s terrible?

          Everybody the Eagles drafted.

          All of the other teams got the good players.

          I just don’t get it.

  • DSjr11

    They tried him on the outside in TC and he struggled against the 2s and PS and in PS he had a worse PFF than fletch and Cary…don’t you think they tried or you just assumed they keep him in the slot for jokes? Think before you speak!

    • jtw7

      What’s TC and no they never gave him a full chance on the outside not because they doubt he can do it but they don’t wanna pay him that outside corner money.

      • DSjr11

        Training camp and umm maybe cuz he got abused by the outside recievers on the pats & by second string WRs in practice…who knows lol

        • jtw7

          I guess you’ll see when he plays for another team and two years then you’ll know lol

          • DSjr11

            I guess so…or he can be another Walter Thurmond…get a good contract as a slot db…simple …embrace your role

          • jtw7

            Or he could be another antoine winfieid.. When your one of the best players on our defense the coaches should see that his roll has to be expaned no matter who playing time it cuts into.

          • DSjr11

            And they’ve tried to expand it and he struggled! What don’t you get?

          • jtw7

            TC and pre-season are different from the regular season but which of are corners haven’t struggled he got more upside than all of them. what don’t you get?

          • DSjr11

            He’s more skilled but picture him going against Alshon or Larry fitz or megatron…he would get abused and you’re an idiot if you think otherwise…his skills are suited for close spaces (space in which slot recievers run most of their routes) which is why he is very effective…in the open field he struggles cuz of his size…he’s a crazy athlete but that rarely works on the outside due to the fact most outside corners are just as athletic! 6’2 athlete > 5’9 athlete EVERY SINGLE TIME! Length helps on the outside compared to athleticism (case and point Richard Sherman)…now do you get it? He got exposed on the outside in TC and PS against the pats and his second unit…what do you think actual #1s and 2s would do to him?

          • jtw7

            So you’re saying the nfl over the years have been filled with only 6’2 corners haha man put the man outside and see what in can do in games that matter!

          • DSjr11

            No dummy, I’m saying you would rather have a lanky less athletic person on the outside than a short athlete…most corners on the outside have length, if not they have great closing speed, hips, eyes, etc. Boykin is an athlete and a ball hawk…his skills are suited as a safety or slot db (hence the reason safeties play the nickel a lot throughout the league)…he got exposed in games that don’t matter soo why try him out in games that do?

          • jtw7

            Lol you one of those people that have to be right your typing a whole bunch of words and still aint’t saying nothing boykin is the best corner on are team therfore he should be playing more no excuses.

          • DSjr11

            Our** team…and just cuz youre more talented doesn’t mean you belong somewhere…skill wise cam newton, Vick, kap are all better than Rodgers and Peyton but they have attributes that those other guys don’t have…Peyton and Aaron can read a defense better than all of them…they’re not faster, stronger, can’t throw as far or with as much velocity but they know their limits and perfect what they can do

          • 732q1

            Shut up dude your right talent doesn’t make you a great player but if you don’t have your best talent on the field you are responable for not letting it develop

          • DSjr11

            100% correct but if you don’t succeed on the outside or struggle through camp on the outside then that’s just not your role for the team no matter how talented you are…Walter Thurmond was an outside corner beginning of his career and struggled, he became a slot corner and now he’s one of the best! There’s 11 positions on that defense, some peoples talents are best served at a certain position

          • DSjr11

            Half the men in my family are college coaches or high school coaches…I’m a corner myself…you think I wouldn’t want our most skilled player on the outside? Let’s be real…but he just isn’t suited for it which is why they won’t put him out there…the eagles coaches get paid crazy money, you think they haven’t thought about putting him out there? You think they don’t wanna win?

          • DSjr11

            Boykin is by far my favorite player on the defense, I like Georgia and I loved him there…but I’m also a realist and he will be a liability on the outside

          • 78tu1

            He’s a playmaker that was second in the league in ints on 50% percent of the snaps a increase in playing time can’t really hurt.