Why are the Steelers wasting Brandon Boykin?


The Pittsburgh Steelers are in solid shape right now, standing at 4-2. They might even be 5-1 if not for a couple of missed field goals by Josh Scobee, and that’s really special considering how short-handed the offense has been so far.

Still, I have a feeling that they’re really wasting an opportunity by keeping cornerback Brandon Boykin on the sidelines.

One of my biggest pet peeves is people who do things a certain way simply because that’s the way they’ve always been done. Nowhere is this more apparent in the NFL, where head coaches stubbornly cling to tradition despite obvious evidence that what they’re trying isn’t working. See: Fox, John.

When Pittsburgh traded a fifth round pick to Chip Kelly and the Philadelphia Eagles to get Boykin this summer I thought it was a lopsided trade in their favor. Boykin never saw a ton of playing time with the Eagles, but whenever he was on the field he made an impact. I would even argue that Boykin is the NFL’s best nickelback.

Why can’t he get off the bench, then? It seems everywhere he goes Boykin’s game is under-appreciated.

The reason why Kelly supposedly let Boykin go was because he didn’t fit his model for what a starting cornerback should be: in other words he was deemed too short to play outside. For a supposedly innovative coach like Kelly I was stunned by his foolishness: great cornerbacks are great cornerbacks and they don’t make a lot of them. Who cares how tall they are?

Things are even worse with the Steelers, if you can believe it.

According to Sportingcharts.com, Boykin has only played 10 snaps this year with the Steelers, which is 2.4 percent of their total on defense.

Can you imagine how frustrating that must be? Surely Boykin is fuming inside and would love to rip them for his playing time, but he’s saying all the right things. Here’s what he told the Observer Reporter about his situation this week:

“I’d love to be playing, but it’s out of my control. I can’t come in every day with that type of attitude. I’ve got to continue to work and keep a positive mindset. At any moment, I could be in. I don’t make any type of decisions. I just roll with it and control my attitude and practice my butt off for whenever it is.”

What a winner.

Boykin has every right to be mad about his snap count – yet he’s keeping the right attitude and putting the team first. Why can’t he be rewarded for this with some time on the field?

I find it really hard to believe that Boykin would not be an upgrade over any of the other Pittsburgh corners who have seen regular playing time this season. Antwon Blake is inconsistent and the less said about Ross Cockrell the better.

Maybe there’s a legitimate reason why they’re not playing him. Maybe he still needs to learn the defense. Maybe his coverage skills can’t make up for his size. Doesn’t he at least deserve the chance to prove himself?

At the very least, the Steelers squandered a fifth round pick if they’re never going to use Boykin. At worst, they’re letting one of the most underrated defensive backs of our time go to waste.

Next: Ben Roethlisberger's injury timeline

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