On Saturday night the Eagles finally did what many of us have been expecting for months now as slot cornerback Brandon Boykin was traded to Pittsburgh per multiple NFL reports. In return the Eagles received a 2016 conditional 5th or 6th round pick. According to Jeff McLane of Philly.com, the draft choice could become a 4th rounder based on Boykin’s playing time. It became pretty clear once Chip and Billy Davis arrived that Boykin was simply never going to be in the plans to play outside corner which was his desire. They simply viewed him as a slot/nickel corner and were not going to move off their stance. Boykin was heading into the final year of his rookie contract and was not going to resign here under the current conditions so a trade was beneficial for both parties involved. All Eagles fans will remember the Georgia alum for his division sealing interception against Kyle Orton and the Cowboys in Week 17 of the 2013-14 season. Boykin finished with six interceptions that season including a pick six off Bears quarterback Jay Cutler the week before his Orton game winner. He had a down year in 2014-15 and I believe was distracted by his playing time which was an ongoing topic of discussion due to the secondary struggles. He will be competing for a starting spot with the Steelers with Cortez Allen and William Gay projected to be the starters. Pittsburgh also drafted corners Senquez Golson and Doran Grant in the 2015 draft.
Turning our focus to the Eagles impact of this trade, Boykin’s departure now leaves a hole for the slot cornerback position. Nolan Carroll is expected to be in the lead for starting corner opposite Byron Maxwell. Rookie Eric Rowe from Utah is expected to primarily play on the outside while he still makes the transition from safety. A few options include Walter Thurmond dropping down from his safety position to play the nickel which he has previously done with Seattle and the Giants. 2nd year corner Jaylen Watkins played both spots in college at Florida and was moved around during the OTA’s. Rookies Jacorey Shepherd and Randall Evans also have slot experience from their collegiate days, but I don’t expect them to be the primary option for this battle. Veteran EJ Biggers should also be mentioned as well if the other names fail to impress. My pick for the slot corner is Jaylen Watkins I think he will show vast improvements this year.
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