When the Steelers traded for cornerback Brandon Boykin, Steeler nation rejoiced.
The Steelers have had a couple of decent cornerback picks since Ike Taylor, such as William Gay and Bryant McFadden… but the list of failures at the position is longer than successes.
I applauded the team for recognizing they just don’t seem to evaluate cornerbacks well (more evidence of that this year when they cut 4th round pick Doran Grant after one training camp), and decided to go out and find a talented cover man outside the draft.
The number showed Boykin was one of the most talented slot cornerbacks in the league, but wasn’t utilized outside that role in Philadelphia. He’s small, but I saw a lot of similarities to Broncos’ cornerback Chris Harris, who’s become one of the best corners in the league despite his lack of size and plays all over the field.
Boykin, I said, was going to take this defense to another level.
Seven weeks into the season, it’s a whole different story and I still have no idea why. The team spent a pick on Boykin, he’s shown in the past he can play, and the guys in front of him have struggled. Right off the bat in week 1, Julian Edelman was abusing Antwon Blake play after play, and I felt that Boykin would’ve been a great match-up in that situation.
The coaching staff supposedly loves Ross Cockrell. While he’s struggled, I’m fine with him being out there. He’s young and might be the future at the position for this team.
Antwon Blake is probably one of my favorite players on this team. He’s a high energy guy that plays 100% on every down… but I don’t know that he’s starter material. He’s showed he can make splash plays, but his coverage ability is very suspect and the Cardinals targeted him a ton on Sunday; allowing John Brown to have a career day.
Dale Lolley of the Observer Reporter asked Boykin about his lack of playing time this week to which Brandon responded “If I had the answers, you wouldn’t be asking me,” Boykin said. “I’d love to be playing, but it’s out of my control. I can’t come in every day with that type of attitude. I’ve got to continue to work and keep a positive mindset. At any moment, I could be in. I don’t make any type of decisions. I just roll with it and control my attitude and practice my butt off for whenever it is.”
That’s an incredibly mature response from Boykin. I’m not sure I’d be as positive if I were in Brandon’s frustrating position. It’s just one more reason I want him to see the field, and sign a long-term deal with this team at the end of the season. That’s a stand up guy, and teammate.
Boykin might be the most talented player in this secondary, and continues to sit. While that’s happening he just make plays when he gets to see the field. Plays like a nice pass defense in the endzone against the 49ers earlier this year in a rare defensive snap. Plays like the special teams play he made against the Cardinals that pinned them on their own 2 and what briefly looked like might have scored his team a touchdown.
If Boykin were to complain publicly about his lack of playing time, most fans would call him a diva and a bad player to have in the locker room. In the same situation he’s in, I wouldn’t blame him for complaining; especially when he’s repeatedly asked by media members why he’s not playing.
With Antwon Blake and Cortez Allen on the mend this week, it appears as if he finally might get his chance to see the field defensively.
It’s time for the coaching staff to give him his fair chance at keeping the job, and rewarding a guy that’s kept his mouth shut and his nose to the grindstone.