Miles Boykin got physical when it mattered, leading to his third-round selection by Baltimore

Eric Hansen
South Bend Tribune

The physical transformation that eventually trumped the questions on the game tape and ultimately shortened Miles Boykin's NFL Draft waiting period was his encore response to “the catch.”

In the weeks that followed his game-winning, one-handed stab and ensuing mad dash to the end zone in Citrus Bowl ambush of LSU, the Notre Dame wide receiver wanted to make sure the breathtaking grab as a fill-in starter in the 2017 postseason didn’t define him.

He wanted more, and it started with Irish director of football performance Matt Balis.

The culmination of the rededication in the weight room and a single season as ND’s No. 1 option in the passing game landed the 6-foot-4, 220-pound early entry in the NFL’s third round Friday night in Nashville Tenn.

The Baltimore Ravens made Boykin the 93rd pick overall and the 30th selection in the third round. In doing so, he joins a relatively small fraternity.

Only seven other Notre Dame wide receivers in the past 50 drafts were selected in the first three rounds. Boykin becomes the third to do so in the Brian Kelly Era, joining first-rounders Will Fuller (2016) and Michael Floyd (2012).

The other five are Golden Tate (2nd, 2010), Maurice Stovall (3rd, 2006), Derrick Mayes (2nd, 1996), Lake Dawson (3rd, 1994) and Heisman Trophy winner Tim Brown (1st, 1988).

"I think the biggest thing for me is I’m still developing day-in and day-out, and I have a lot of upside." Boykin said Friday night in a teleconference with the media. "I think I can do a lot of things well right now, but at the same time, I have a lot to work on, and I know that coming into this organization.

"I think I’m surrounded by the right coaches to be able to grow and grow with this team and grow with this quarterback (Lamar Jackson). So, I think the future is going to be great for us.”

Jerry Tillery is the only other Notre Dame player in this draft cycle to come off the board in the first 102 picks. On Thursday night, he became the ninth Irish player in the last eight drafts to be selected in the first round and the first defensive lineman from ND to go in the first round since Renaldo Wynn in 1997.

The Los Angeles Chargers plucked Tillery with the 28th pick.

As many as six of their Irish teammates are expected to be selected Saturday, as the 2019 draft wraps up with rounds 4 through 7, starting at noon EDT (ABC, ESPN, NFL Network).

Consensus All-America cornerback Julian Love, like Boykin an early entry, was a surprise omission Friday night after being projected as a likely second-round selection.

It was Boykin’s performance at the NFL Scouting Combine roughly a couple of months ago that stirred interest in him more than his 59 receptions for 872 yards and 8 TDs. And that physical push began in the winter months of 2018.

His leg strength increased dramatically, with a 40-inch vertical leap and nearly 11-foot standing broad jump as tangible strides forward. At the combine a year later, the vertical had increased to 43.5 inches, the broad jump to 11-8, and he added a sizzling 4.42-second clocking in the 40-yard dash.

"You have a big, fast guy, who’s a powerful guy, who can catch and get upfield with the ball with his stride length and his stiff arm, and he goes up and makes catches," Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said. "He’s a developing player. He’s kind of a younger, developing player. He’s only really had one year in the offense."

Perhaps he could have increased his draft value by returning to school, but Boykin was the 13th wide receiver taken in the draft, nonetheless, after a slow run at the position.

Only two wide receivers went in the first round and none in the first 24 picks. Future teammate Marquise Brown of Oklahoma was the first receiver taken at No. 25.

"He’s definitely a big-play threat, and I love watching him play," Boykin said of Brown. "But at the same time, we’re two different receivers, and I think our games are just really going to complement each other.”

Boykin joins former Notre Dame left tackle Ronnie Stanley and cornerback Bennett Jackson on the Ravens roster.

"You never truly know who is going to pick you," Boykin said. "People try to tell you, ‘You’re going to go here, or you’re going to go there,’ but at the end of the day, it’s really a surprise for everybody.

"I was just watching at a restaurant with my family. It was really the coolest feeling I ever had in my life. When my phone started ringing, everybody at the table looked at me, and it’s awesome."

Baltimore I can't wait to play for you and all the Ravens fans!!!

— Miles Boykin (@MBoykin814) April 27, 2019

Notre Dame wide receiver Miles Boykin ran himself up draft boards with a 4.42-second clocking and other impressive testing March 2 at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.