Just when I thought I had my preseason top 10 cornerback rankings finalized, there was one last name I wanted to get to. And I'm glad, I did because Texas Longhorn CB Kris Boyd is oozing with upside and currently slots as my CB2 entering the season.
Listed at 6-foot and 200 pounds, Boyd is a four-star high school recruit that was ranked among the top 10 cornerbacks in the nation for his class. His cousins are Curtis Brown and Bobby Taylor who enjoyed three- and ten-year careers in the NFL respectively as defensive backs.
Having ideal size and football bloodlines are just the starting points for what there is to like about Boyd as a prospect. His growth as a player throughout the course of his Longhorn career and entering his senior season also makes him exciting.
A 20-game starter so far, Boyd enjoyed his best season in 2017 where he racked up 57 tackles, 15 pass breakups and two interceptions. Those 15 PBUs are the highest among returning Big 12 defensive backs and the most a Longhorn has logged since 2011.
Let's dig into Boyd's film and discuss the traits that make me believe he can be one of the best corners in the 2019 class.
Oftentimes, bigger corners aren't the best options for duties in off man coverage where foot speed and fluidity are critical for carrying routes vertically down the field. They often don't have the ability to quickly transition, flip their hips, turn and remain in phase with the receiver.
That's not the case with Boyd who thrives in multiple techniques, including off man. His quick feet and ability to turn and run with his man down the field are impressive on this rep. Also, notice how he also leverages the route. The receiver is lined up and releases inside the numbers but Boyd pins him towards the sideline and is only a yard or so away from it by the time the play is over. Boyd works his head around, locates the ball in the air and makes a play on it. The only knock is the Boyd didn't finish the play with an interception but everything else in textbook.
Speaking of textbook, that's again the case on this next play. Texas is in Cover 2 which means Boyd is responsible to react to the flat and then gain depth to take away any 9 or 7 routes. Boyd perfectly squeezes the initial route, fulfills his duties to the flat and peels back to work into the throwing lane and deflect the pass. It can't be done any better.
Boyd didn't secure a should-have-been interception earlier in the contest but he atones for that missed opportunity later in the first half. Playing in zone coverage on this rep, Boyd illustrates good route anticipation to his area, reads the backfield and works into the throwing lane to create the takeaway.
A non-negotiable trait I need in football players is a desire to be physical. For corners, they have to be willing to fight through contact and tackle. Too often, DBs are reluctant to get in the mix and it's apparent they'd prefer to not get their jersey dirty. That's not the case with Boyd.
Playing like his frame suggests he should, Boyd is aggressive in pursuit and a good tackler. While I wish he would have read the pass a tad quicker, Boyd attacks the blocker with leverage and violent hands to get involved with the finish. And no, the Texas Tech ball carrier did not score on this play despite the referee signaling a touchdown.
Oh, and here's three more plays in seven seconds that highlight Boyd's physicality and aggressive mentality.
Now there's an entire season to play and Boyd needs to continue his upward trajectory as a player but there are high level traits showcased throughout his game film that are becoming of a great prospect.
The toast of the 2019 corner class is LSU's Greedy Williams, but it's time to take Boyd seriously as a top prospect. Playing in the pass-happy Big 12, there will be plenty of opportunities for Boyd to demonstrate consistency within his skill set and I'm bullish on what he can become.
The NFL is thirsty for cornerbacks that offer Boyd's skill set and traits. Get him on your radar.