Rookie cornerback Brandon Boykin is self-assured and confident in his abilities. That is a trait successful cornerbacks must have in order to forget about a catch allowed and bounce back on the very next play.
Too much confidence, however, can lead to hubris and that can befell a cornerback much like a receiver's speed or deft route running. At first glance, it looked as if Boykin aced his rookie camp weekend with the Eagles.
He transitioned between the outside and the slot with ease. Boykin's speed allowed him to keep up with receivers down the sideline. He showed that he can position his body to shield receivers from the ball while utilizing the sideline to his advantage. Boykin's leaping ability, which is on display on this YouTube high school dunk clip, helped knock the ball away on more than one occasion.
"When the ball is in the air, there is no defensive back. There is no wide receiver. It's anybody's ball. That's the mentality I have," Boykin said. "I feel like I'm the wide receiver. It's my job to take it away. It's my job to get the ball."
Eagles fans can take solace that the fourth-round pick doesn't suffer from better-than-I-think-I-am-itis as he will look to battle for the nickel slot position as well as a return job this year. The 5-9, 182-pound with a thick, muscular frame had no issue critiquing his play over the weekend.
"I'm learning a different terminology. It's a different scheme," Boykin said. "Playing (in the slot) at Georgia, you kind of got a feel for it. In the NFL, everything is so much faster and so much quicker. You just have to get it on the go. From the standpoint of just feeling comfortable as far as knowing where I'm supposed to be, yeah I feel OK."
The biggest thing Boykin said he needs to improve upon is route recognition and pre-snap keys. Head coach Andy Reid had one specific thing he wanted Boykin to improve and thought he did so over the past three days of practice.
"With that inside slot position, you have to make sure that you maintain leverage and I thought he improved on that," Reid said. "It was something that I thought he needed to work on when he drafted him, and I felt he did better."
As a defensive player, Boykin values every little bit of real estate. He would be disappointed giving up short completions in drills designed to favor the offense. The situation doesn't matter, Boykin tried to treat every play as if it was in a game.
"As a defensive back, you've got to compete on every play. Anything that's completed is yards given up so even though we're learning out here, even though we don't know everything, I'm taking it as if it's a game situation," he said. "If you keep that mentality, I think I'll be ready for the game."
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