Brandon Boykin is, simply put, awesome. I would tend to think Eagles fans agree, especially after his game sealing interception (pictured) that gave the Eagles their first win at home since September 2012. When it looked like the Redskins might stage an impressive comeback to tie the game, Boykin put an end to Washington's aspirations. After the play, Boykin returned to the Eagles sideline, game ball in hand, to celebrate. He went over to Eagles head coach Chip Kelly who had the following words of wisdom to impose on his bright, young talent:
"Thanks for saving my ass."
Boykin was drafted by the Eagles in the fourth round of the 2012 NFL Draft. The second year cornerback has been having a great year. He's picking up right where he left off after an impressive training camp and preseason performance.
On defense, he's playing primarily in the slot. Boykin grades out well by ProFootballFocus.com. He's 32nd out of 108 CBs with at least 25% snaps played. His pass coverage grade is ranked 7th best. Boykin's earned 4 INT on the season along with 6 passes defensed. NFL quarterbacks own a 62.8 QB rating when throwing his way. He's a great tackler as well. According to PFF, Boykin has made 37 tackles and hasn't missed a single one.
Boykin's contribution on special teams in another reason he's so valuable. His coverage on punts has been phenomenal. Donnie Jones is tied for 4th in the NFL for punts downed inside the 20 yard line. This is partially because Donnie Football is an awesome directional punter, but Boykin also deserves his due. He's constantly the first man down on coverage. Boykin's diving effort to keep Jones' early punt out of the endzone against Washington was a highlight play. The ball was downed at the 2 instead of bouncing into the endzone for a touchback.
He's also the current kick returner, although it remains to be seen if the Eagles will replace him with recently signed KR Brad Smith once Smith has more time to adjust to the team.
Funny enough, Boykin is probably the best corner the Eagles have. Bradley Fletcher is a solid but unspectacular starter, and Cary Williams is not without his flaws. Boykin's talent seems to outrank those two players, but the Eagles like using him in the slot and on special teams. They feel that's the way to best maximize his value.
It's hard to argue with the results. Boykin's been a nice piece for an improving Eagles defense.
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