When Brandon Boykin was acquired via trade from the Philadelphia Eagles back in August it was largely assumed he would slide right into the slot corner position. After all, this was an area he thrived at for the Eagles and his ability to cover quick slot receivers was something I was sure the Steelers coveted.
After five games Boykin has played a whopping grand total of 12 snaps on defense. So much for any thoughts that he would play a significant part of this rebuilt secondary…
The cost of acquiring Boykin was a conditional draft pick. Should he play 60% or more of the team’s total snaps on defense then the Eagles would receive a fourth-round draft pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. Were he to play less than 60% of the Steelers’ defensive snaps then the pick would be for a fifth-rounder.
I asked our resident mathematical genius here at SCB, Ben, to run the numbers on where Boykin is and what it would take for his acquisition to become a fourth-rounder. I asked him because I have trouble counting without using my fingers.
Through five games, Boykin has played 12 of 357 snaps. That works out to 3.36% of the team’s defensive snaps. Over the next 11 games, Boykin would have to be on the field for approximately 63 of the defense’s snaps in order to achieve a percentage of 60% or more. The likelihood of this happening would mean that either the Steelers suffered serious injuries to many corners or that the world was in fact coming to an end. In other words, I don’t see it occurring.
To put it in perspective, Monday night against San Diego, he did not see the field on defense. Ross Cockrell saw 70 snaps while Antwon Blake and William Gay each saw 75 total snaps. Even with Cortez Allen inactive and Will Allen out of the game with an ankle injury, the secondary easily could have rotated into a situation where Boykin may have been needed but that was not to be.
The excuse that Boykin is hurt is no longer valid. His wife told me via Twitter he was “1,000%” three weeks ago and he hasn’t been listed on the injury chart either. The other reason Boykin isn’t playing from what I was told is that the team likes the open-field tackling of Cockrell and Blake more than they do him.
My thought there is that he must be awful considering the number of missed tackles I’ve seen in our secondary of late. In my opinion, both Mike Tomlin and the front office panicked this summer. Ross Cockrell was still in Buffalo at the time so they pulled the trigger on Boykin not realizing he really didn’t fit what they wanted to do in Keith Butler’s defense.
It’s not the first and it won’t be the last time a team panics over a player but if the Steelers really believe he can’t help them then why not move him? It just seems like the right thing to do for both parties.