The Pittsburgh Steelers acquired cornerback Brandon Boykin Saturday evening via a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles and after taking part in his first practice with his new team Sunday at Saint Vincent College, head coach Mike Tomlin was asked to talk about his newest defensive back.
“Yeah, we liked Boykin coming out, not only as a corner, but as a return man,” said Tomlin when asked if he liked Boykin coming out of Georgia. “And he had established himself as a return man in his draft profile. He’s a heckuva a guy, he’s a football guy. He’s a guy that makes plays above the neck, he’s also got some physical talent.
“He’s just another NFL-capable veteran corner to put in the mix in a very competitive situation. We don’t have a lot of experience, there’re some questions at the position. We don’t mind the lack of experience and the questions, but we’ve got to have enough viable candidates and with Senquez [Golson] being out, we thought it was important to acquire another viable option to put in the mix and let them guys sort themselves out over the course of the preseason.”
Tomlin didn’t give any updates on rookie Senquez Golson after practice and so it’s starting to sound like he won’t be returning to the field anytime soon.
It’s interesting that Tomlin highlighted Boykin’s return skills in his answer. In his three seasons with the Eagles, Boykin returned 54 kickoffs for 1,242 yards. However, he didn’t return any kickoffs in 2014 and has only returned one punt during his NFL career. That punt return came during his rookie season. During his final year at Georgia, however, Boykin did return 32 punts for 180 yards with one touchdown that went for 92 yards in the Outback Bowl against Michigan State.
Boykin has plenty of time to learn the defense and his presence will now make the competition at cornerback even better. While he has played sparingly on the outside during his first three years in the league, he has really excelled at as slot defender. We’ll have to wait and see if he’s given an opportunity to compete for the return jobs over the course of the remainder of training camp and I wouldn’t bet against that happening based on Tomlin’s Sunday remarks.