Steelers fans need to temper expectations for new WR Miles Boykin
By Tommy Jaggi
Miles Boykin could prove to be a quality depth signing, but here’s why Steelers fans shouldn’t expect him to offer much more to the offense.
As soon as the Baltimore Ravens released wide receiver, Miles Boykin, Steelers fans were quick to bang on the table for him. Many remember watching Boykin at the 2019 NFL Combine where he really started to turn heads with his outstanding testing numbers.
Soon after his release, the Pittsburgh Steelers appeased fans by claiming the veteran wide receiver off waivers. This means that his $2.54 million salary will be on the books for the 2022 season, and he will almost certainly make the roster this year.
After losing JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington, and Ray-Ray McCloud in free agency this year, signing a veteran receiver seemed like a must prior to the NFL Draft. Because of their current lack of depth at the position, Boykin probably slots in as the team’s third receiver on the depth chart.
However, I would caution against having lofty expectations for the athletic wide receiver. In reality, this really is no more than a quality depth signing and a special teams player.
Boykin won’t steal the show on Steelers offense
I didn’t have a problem with the Ravens rolling the dice with a third-round pick on a player like Miles Boykin back in the 2019 NFL Draft. You simply don’t find receivers with his combination of size and athletic traits very often.
At 6’3 3/4” and 220 pounds, Boykin remarkably managed to test as a 99th percentile athlete, according to Relative Athletic Score. He recorded a 4.42 40-yard dash to go with a 43.5” vertical jump and an 11’8” broad jump. This is on top of already having a freakishly long wingspan and massive catch radius.
Unfortunately for him, Boykin’s time in Baltimore didn’t go as planned. The big wide receiver recorded just 32 receptions over 32 games in his first two seasons, via ESPN stats. In 2021, after dealing with a hamstring injury, Boykin managed just 1 reception for 6 yards in 8 games. He was a healthy scratch at times late in the season.
While his combination of size and explosiveness are certainly intriguing, I would caution fans to temper expectations for Miles Boykin. Though he didn’t mesh well with Baltimore’s run-heavy offensive gameplan, there was very little splash from him over his first three-year sample in the NFL.
In addition, it’s very possible that Boykin could still get bumped down the depth chart. There seems to be a good chance the Pittsburgh Steelers could target a wide receiver as early as the second round this year. By doing so, Boykin’s projected role in 2022 would be even more limited.
Miles Boykin does offer some value on special teams as a gunner and in kickoff coverage. He logged 417 snaps in this department over his first three seasons, according to Pro Football Reference. However, I don’t foresee him making a big impact on offense. In fact, his role in this department will probably be very similar to what we saw with James Washington last season.
Boykin could prove to be a quality signing and perhaps he performs much better than I anticipate he will. However, I just don’t think he’s a very natural wide receiver, and I would temper expectations for him in 2022.