Now that the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2022 season is over, the team finishing above .500 but failing to make the postseason, we turn our attention to the offseason and everything that means. One thing that it means is that some stock evaluations are going to start taking on broader contexts, reflecting on a player’s development, either positively or negatively, over the course of the season. Other evaluations will reflect only one immediate event or trend. The nature of the evaluation, whether short-term or long-term, will be noted in the reasoning section below.
Player: WR Miles Boykin
Stock Value: Up
Reasoning: Miles Boykin established himself as a core special teams player during his first season with the Steelers in 2022, potentially opening the door for a long-term union between the two parties. He helped the team finish second in the NFL in punt return yardage average.
I’m guessing this one may depend upon the perspective with which you approach Boykin being brought in last season. A former third-round draft pick, he was waived by the Baltimore Ravens after three seasons, and Pittsburgh claimed him off waivers, in need of wide receiver depth.
He ended up making the team initially as the number six receiver, ostensibly, if you include Calvin Austin III, who would end up on the Reserve/Injured List all season. But he still dressed because of his special teams role even though he was behind Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool George Pickens, and Gunner Olszewski at the time. Olszewski was then replaced by Steven Sims in the pecking order, again due to special teams.
Boykin’s offensive opportunities were relatively few. Although he did play 132 snaps, much of it came in running situations because he is the wide receiver the Steelers had on the roster who was most equipped to block.
But the heart and sole of his job was the 200-plus snaps that he spent working on special teams, and in which capacity he registered nine tackles. While not quite a ‘four-phase’ special teamer (he contributed little on the punt return unit but featured prominently on punt coverage and both kick coverage and returns), he proved to be a valuable asset throughout the year.
Yet some will surely note that even amid shake-ups in the wide receiver room, Boykin made little headway as an offensive contributor. When Olszewski fell out of favor and Chase Claypool was traded, it was Sims who was used more.
He played 70 snaps on offense in the final five games, actually. Yet he was targeted only once in that span, making the catch for zero yards. He finished the year with two receptions on three targets for 11 yards.
One imagines the Steelers will want to re-sign him for his ability to contribute on special teams. They may even look to sign him on a multi-year deal, though not a pricy one. But I would not look for him to climb the offensive depth chart.