Of course, there are always steals and underrated prospects in the NFL Draft each year.
Some players may be easier to distinguish as “underrated” than others, but it’s really all based on opinion. Entering the draft, does anyone truly know? Maybe not, but one can certainly believe. And there’s no short of belief from Lance Boykin that he could be the biggest steal in this year’s draft.
In a class that’s loaded with cornerback talent, the former Coastal Carolina defensive back has a lot of competition when it comes to drawing eyes from NFL scouts and GMs. In Mel Kiper Jr.’s latest mock draft, he has five cornerbacks being drafted in the first round and two in the top 10 — Oregon’s Christian Gonzalez and Illinois’ Devon Witherspoon — and CBS Sports lists Boykin outside the top 20 in its corner draft rankings.
These lists make it easier to label Boykin as underrated.
Boykin was a team captain for the Chanticleers last season and posted two interceptions and 10 pass breakups. Those numbers don’t necessarily jump off the charts but it’s worth noting that Boykin’s side of the field wasn’t targeted as much as it could have been. Actually, both of those interceptions came against Gardner-Webb in a game that Coastal was on the brink of losing, but the turnovers helped the Chants pull out the 31-27 victory.
Boykin was tabbed Second Team all-conference in the Sun Belt. His season helped earn him a spot in the Shrine Bowl.
At 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds, Boykin possesses excellent size for his position. With that size, he has shown that he’s not afraid to get in the mix and make a tackle when he’s needed to. He tallied 58 tackles last season compared to 27 during the 2021 campaign while playing in two fewer games. There’s definitely weight to be added to his frame and with his experience and tackling ability, perhaps teams could think about a move to safety.
For his height and length, Boykin doesn’t struggle much to get in his backpedal and can make a good break on the ball with the help of his instincts.
Here’s Boykin lined up in press coverage at the Shrine Bowl and making a nice play on the ball:
While there are a lot of positives on display in this man-to-man rep, Boykin seems to be better suited for a zone defense, for now. He mainly played zone for Coastal and his lack of elite speed and inability to change direction on a dime can limit him at the next level, especially in an isolated situation. Sitting in a zone defense won’t expose him to these weaknesses as much.
He did not run the 40-yard dash at the Scouting Combine and his 40 time at his pro day was 4.73 seconds. Boykin’s broad jump was 10-4, his vertical was 30.5 inches, and he hit 13 reps on the bench press. Again, not numbers that stand out but there’s a lot to build on.
By adding some muscle and sharpening some of his tools, Boykin could very well become a contributor on an NFL roster someday.