The Pittsburgh Steelers are not known to be major players when it comes to making trades,so when they make one it’s usually big news and you can bet they have done their homework.
The Steelers announced Saturday evening that they had completed a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles to acquire cornerback Brandon Boykin in exchange for a conditional fifth-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.
So, what do we know about Boykin ?
Boykin 25, 5-10,185 was an Eagle fourth round pick out of Georgia in 2012.
Boykin has played in 48 career games in three seasons,having seen playing action in every game of his career. He has 6 career starts ,recording seven career interceptions ,120 tackles ,4 forced fumbles and 32 pass breakups .
He had six interceptions and 17 passes defensed in the 2013 season his best as a Pro,despite being on the field for just 51.6 percent of the Eagles defensive plays..
It is widely believed that Chip Kelly who took over as head coach of the Eagles in 2013, prefers taller cornerbacks and was never sold on Brandon Boykin who is barely 5-10.
However, Boykin is a young cornerback with plenty of up-side. He has produced plenty despite only 6 NFL career starts.
According to profootballfocus.com Brandon Boykin limited quarterbacks to a rating of just 78.2 when they targeted him in 2014. That made him a top-five slot cornerback in their grading system.
Pro Football Focus also has Boykin rated 6th on their list of top 10 cornerbacks of 2015 , right behind Darrelle Revis .
Many Eagle fans and teammates were surprised by the trade of Boykin and even Eagles head coach Chip Kelly felt the need to explain the trade…
Chip Kelly: “They [the Pittsburgh Steelers] actively pursued him. They wanted to trade for him at the draft and we turned it down. They called last week and we turned it down again and then when we sat down with Cory [defensive backs coach Cory Undlin] and Billy [defensive coordinator Bill Davis] and Ed [Vice President of Player Personnel Ed Marynowitz] as a group and looked at the offer they made for us, really it more speaks to what our depth was at the position. We felt like it was the move to make.”
“We’re going to have to make some tough decisions at corner and we’re not going to be able to keep them all. I’ve always been a Brandon Boykin fan. I think he did an unbelievable job in the two and a half years I was with him and I wish him nothing but success.”
So you can see the Steelers did not just come up with this deal over night and it’s clear Boykin had been on their radar for some time.
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin spoke about Bradon Boykin after completing the trade…
Mike Tomlin: “We liked Boykin coming out, not only as a cornerback, but as a return man. He was established as a return man in his draft profile. He’s a heck of a guy. He’s a football guy. He’s a guy that makes plays above the neck and also has some physical talent. He’s just another NFL-capable veteran cornerback to put in the mix in a very competitive situation. We don’t have a lot of experience and there are some questions at the position. We don’t mind the lack of experience and the questions, but we need to have enough viable candidates. With Senquez [Golson] being out, we felt it was important to acquire another viable option to put in the mix and let those guys sort things out throughout the preseason.”
The Steelers are retooling their secondary for the 2015 season and quality NFL experience was one thing that this group lacked. However, the trade for Brandon Boykin adds a much-needed starter capable piece to the puzzle.
Boykin has excelled in the slot position and the outside position. He is very football smart and a proven NFL player with three seasons of game experience under his belt.
Boykin is also familiar with the cover 2 scheme the Steelers coaches are thought to be leaning on more this season under new defensive coordinator Keith Butler.
The bottom line is Brandon Boykin is a young play-making cornerback on the rise with NFL game experience , who gives the Steelers secondary a lot more versatility as a unit .
This move looks to be a good one and looks to go a long way into helping solve the Steelers secondary puzzle in 2015.
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