Eagle Eye: Production from the draft
Brandon Boykin had just three fewer interceptions this season (6) than all 11 cornerbacks drafted ahead of him combined. (USA Today Images)
Morris Claiborne. Stephon Gilmore. Dre Kirkpatrick. Janoris Jenkins. Trumaine Johnson. Josh Robinson. Jamell Fleming. Bill Bentley. Jayron Hosley. Omar Bolden. Coty Sensabaugh.
“I can name all of them,” Brandon Boykin said.
Those are the 11 cornerbacks taken ahead of Boykin in last year’s draft. Three in the first round, one in the second, five in the third, two in the fourth.
Boykin was the 123rd pick last year, the 12th cornerback taken, and he hasn’t forgotten.
And he won’t forget.
Boykin had six interceptions this year, more than any of the corners taken in last year’s draft and tied for second-most in the NFL.
The 11 corners taken ahead of him last year combined for nine interceptions this year.
Six for Boykin.
Nine for everybody else.
No wonder Boykin has a chip on his shoulder.
That’s why he has a list of the 11 corners taken before him that he looks at constantly.
“It’s over my bed,” he said. “That’s motivation for me. It legitimately motivates me. That’ll never go away.”
Boykin blossomed as one of the NFL’s top young playmaking cornerbacks this year. The second half of the year, he may have been the most productive corner in the league.
Among Boykin’s big plays during the Eagles’ 7-1 run to end the season were a 76-yard INT return against the Packers, a 54-yard return for a touchdown against the Bears and his season-saving interception in the final moments in Dallas on Sunday night.
Boykin had four interceptions in the Eagles’ last seven games. Nobody in the NFL had more since Week 9. The last Eagles DB with more in the second half of a season was Terry Hoage with five in 1988.
Hoage, like Boykin, came off the bench, playing almost exclusively in nickel.
Boykin played only 51 percent of the Eagles’ defensive snaps this year, and while it could be tempting to put the 23-year-old out there more, defensive coordinator Billy Davis said he thinks keeping Boykin in the slot is a major reason for his terrific breakout season.
“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,” Davis said.
“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 would have been drafted much higher if he hadn’t broken his leg during the Senior Bowl. So he missed the combine and didn’t have a chance to participate in Georgia’s pro day.
“We felt if Brandon tested, he probably would have been the most explosive corner in the draft,” Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said.
Boykin said he understands why teams avoided him coming off his injury.
“Teams don’t want to invest a lot of money in a guy who’s injured,” Boykin said. “The most important thing is to get back out there, and I’m doing it now."
That doesn’t change the fact that Boykin feels slighted.
And that’s why that list will remain over his bed for the foreseeable future.
“Every year,” he said. “Till all of them are out of the league. Every single one of them. That doesn’t go away.”