Steelers: Where is Brandon Boykin?


Before I start this post, I need to get the awful taste of that Ravens loss out of my mouth.

Okay, I’m good.

On August 1st, the Steelers traded a conditional fifth-round draft pick to acquire CB Brandon Boykin from the Philadelphia Eagles.

Many in Steeler Nation (including myself) applauded this move by Steelers GM Kevin Colbert.

It added much needed depth to a secondary in transition. Troy Polamalu retired, Ike Taylor retired, Cortez Allen has been playing like a deer in the headlights and second round pick Senquez Golson had season ending shoulder surgery.

When the trade happened many thought Boykin would be a possible starter. Since entering the league in 2012, Boykin has 120 tackles, 1.0 sack and 7 interceptions. Since we haven’t seen much of Boykin, there’s only one question that remains: where is Brandon Boykin?

There’s no question that the Steelers defense is coming into a new identity, especially the secondary. Last season the Steelers pass defense ranked 27th in the NFL. That kind of ranking isn’t what Steelers fans are used to seeing. Since the pass defense struggled last year, you’d think Boykin would be involved right off the bat, but that hasn’t been the case.

In their Week 1 matchup, the Steelers struggled to stop Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman. The 265 pound TE and his counterpart combined for 191 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns (all by Gronkowski). Edelman seemed to catch everything that Brady threw at him.

I’m sure most, if not all of Steeler Nation (including myself), were asking, “Why isn’t Boykin covering Edelman?” Later we find out that Boykin didn’t play one defensive snap. That’s right. Not. One.

Boykin had this to say after the Patriots loss,

"“I was up to speed in training camp, I knew all the calls and knew the defense and was able to play. Whatever their decision was for not getting me any snaps wasn’t because they thought I didn’t know the defense. It is out of your control. You can’t go into the next day being angry or coming into your workplace mad and all that kind of stuff. It is kind of out of my control.”"

Per Mark Kaboly of Trib Live, William Gay had 56 snaps, Antwon Blake had 56 snaps and Cortez Allen had 32 snaps.

I’m not saying if Boykin played he would’ve been Revis-like, but I think he could’ve made a difference.

After the final cuts, the Steelers picked up CB Ross Cockrell from the Buffalo Bills. Since coming to the Black & Gold, Crockell has 39 defensive snaps, Boykin only has 11. Crockell made his presence felt against the Ravens on Thursday night. He had 1 interception and 1 AMAZING fumble recovery.

I know we should be happy to see this kind of play from our secondary. It seems like we haven’t seen much of an aggressiveness from DB’s for a few seasons. I just can’t help but think when the Steelers will give Boykin more snaps.

Maybe LB Arthur Moats can help us out a bit,

"“When you start asking those questions is when you can be viewed as being a cancer and not having the same team, one-goal mentality, mentally is the toughest part because you have to prepare like you are going to be out there every game. I am sure he is preparing and when he gets his opportunity he is going to make the most of it.”"

Moats has a similar story when he came to the Steelers. Through the first two weeks of his arrival, Moats only played 12 of 138 defensive snaps. He kept his mouth shut and kept working and now he’s the starter at LOLB. Since donning the black & gold, Moats has 5.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and 1 fumble recovery. Maybe the same will happen to Boykin.


The Steelers signed Arthur Moats as a free-agent. They pursued Boykin and gave up a draft pick for him. Chip Kelly said that the Steelers had been pursuing Boykin since draft day. 

I’m no coach and I haven’t seen everything the Steelers coaches or front office have seen. I just don’t understand why you would pursue a consistent player at a needed position, trade for that player and barely give him any defensive snaps.

Maybe time will tell as to why Boykin isn’t playing as much as we think he should. Maybe Boykin just needs to “keep his mouth shut and keep working.”

Next: Steelers Mike and Martavis

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