The Steelers need to give Miles Boykin a shot at receiver

Miles Boykin #13 of the Pittsburgh Steelers (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
Miles Boykin #13 of the Pittsburgh Steelers (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /

The Steelers are in desperate need of a third receiver, and one has to wonder why Miles Boykin hasn’t been given much of a chance.

The Steelers offense has been headlined by the running game in recent weeks. While there have been flashes of solid receiving options, the team has been heavily relying on the ground game to churn up yards. While there is a litany of reasons for this focus on running the ball, one of the primary reasons the passing game isn’t being relied on is due to the lack of a third receiver.

The Steelers had a trio of receivers to start the season, but that turned into a duo after the team dealt Chase Claypool before the trade deadline. While that move was a great one for the team, it has left a noticeable void at the receiver position. While there are plenty of issues with this offense, a lack of a third receiver has hurt this team.

George Pickens is becoming the de facto top option. Diontae Johnson is still number two despite struggling. There have been a few pieces of mud that have been thrown at the wall since Claypool left, but nothing has stuck. My question is, at this point, why isn’t Miles Boykin getting more of a look?

Boykin could aid the Steelers passing game

Let’s be clear upfront, relying more on Boykin won’t solve the issues with the Steelers passing game. Boykin is a limited receiver that hasn’t produced a solid season since 2020. That said, he has the size and speed to be another deep threat and, ideally, open up this passing game.

Initially, I looked past Boykin in favor of Steven Sims. The reason for this was simple: Sims is a more prototypical slot receiver and that was the hole that Claypool was leaving. While he has seen his offensive play increase in recent weeks, he hasn’t been effective. Outside of the occasional jet-sweep, Sims isn’t doing much for this offense.

Even more surprising is that the team has seemed to play him along the outside when he comes into the game, forcing either Johnson or Pickens into the slot. If the team is content with either of those options playing inside, Boykin would be the better outside threat. He can serve in the “Z” role and be a down-the-field threat while the team mixes up their receivers elsewhere.

Even more confusing has been the play of Gunner Olszewski. He has 26-42 percent of the offensive snaps since the bye week. While he comfortably fits into the slot, he is a non-factor on the offense and is wasting snaps there. There shouldn’t be a week that he out-snaps either Boykin or Sims.

Getting Boykin more snaps won’t equate to a sudden onslaught from the passing game. That said, as a pure receiver, Boykin is the third-best option this team has. Getting him more involved is a logical trial for a passing game that has been so lackluster. At this point, it can’t get any worse.

My only issue with Boykin is that he can only play the “Z” role, which forces the other receivers to move around. Pickens has looked fine in the slot though, and frankly, I really like him at the “X” spot that Johnson typically occupies.

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The Steelers need to try something to get more production out of their passing game. Their rotation now isn’t cutting it, and some harder games are on the horizon. Boykin isn’t a great solution, nor is he a long-term one, but trying him out is worth a shot right now given the struggles of this group.