Boykin expects to contribute
When Kevin Sherman first sat down with Jarrett Boykin on a recruiting trip, the future Virginia Tech record-setter hardly said a word.
“You had to pull it out of him,” said Sherman, now the receivers coach at Purdue. “His mom talked more than he did.”
That was his style. He listened. He was, as Sherman said, “always learning.” And this is the temperament Boykin used to elevate from undrafted rookie banished by the Jacksonville Jaguars to starting wide receiver on the Green Bay Packers.
He may have been quiet, reserved, more apt to pop in and out of the locker room than hold court.
This spring, Boykin makes it clear he wants to be “a household name.” His approach is “to be a dog.” It's an attitude he'll need to fend off the influx of talent at his position and prove he's no one-hit wonder.
“Just be dominant,” Boykin said. “Just try to dominate every aspect of the game. Be physical. Honestly, what I'm thinking is just be a dog. Snatch everything, be physical off the line, get open every time. Just have the mentality that you can't be stopped.”
Through Year 1, the Packers treasured Boykin as one of their best-kept secrets. He drew high praise from Aaron Rodgers and from his position coach, Edgar Bennett, and continued to develop behind the scenes. Injuries struck in 2013 and the 24-year-old Boykin caught 49 passes for 681 yards with three touchdowns in essentially 12 games.
So it was no surprise that the Packers let James Jones, 30, walk in free agency.
It might have been somewhat of a surprise to see Green Bay take a wide receiver in the second round … the fifth round … and the seventh round. General manager Ted Thompson went back to doing what he does best—drafting receivers. Second-rounder Davante Adams is the most immediate threat to Boykin.
Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson aren't the only players entering contract years, too. Boykin will be a restricted free agent after the 2014 season.
So the introvert who humbly has kept his nose to the proverbial grindstone plans to take charge.
“I want to be a household name,” Boykin said. “I want to be a Pro Bowl receiver. I want to have 1,000 yards, I want to have big-time touchdowns —10-plus touchdowns. Those are things that you want to do as a player. If you're not striving for those things, then what are you playing for? You don't want to be mediocre. You want to be great. You want to be one of the best that's ever done it.”
Any absence of top-end speed has not handicapped Boykin nearly as much as all NFL teams apparently anticipated. A hamstring injury affected the receiver, but a 4.74 scared all. In the last eight years, 300 wide receivers have run the 40 at the combine and only twoother prospects clocked in at 4.74 or worse. At his pro day, Boykin ran a 4.58.
Boykin doesn't want to hear that he has silenced doubts about his speed.
“I don't care what they call it,” Boykin said. “You can call it what you want. I'm just going to go out there and bust my tail every play.”
His game is crisp route running, knowing when to be where and those 10¼-inch hands. Boykin's six-catch, 83-yard game at Dallas—with zero margin for error—was a tour up the route tree.
In college, the receiver was more competitive with himself than the cornerback across the line.
“Not getting deep enough on a route. Not finishing a play,” said Sherman, citing examples. “One of the things he took pride in at Virginia Tech, being a running offense, is his blocking. I think that's something people weren't really aware of. He had a lot of toughness. And that says a lot about a player—that he's willing to block.”
Rookie wide receivers rarely make a cannonball entrance in Green Bay. Boykin will be difficult to dislodge. With Adams, there are unknowns. With Boykin, knowns. He was one source of reliability when the season turned upside down.
Yet he's on notice. Adams may be a more athletic playmaker at receiver long term.
Boykin's reaction from afar to those three draft picks?
“It's competition,” Boykin said. “Competition brings the best out of everybody. It's actually great. It only helps out the whole core as a group.”
Sherman has a better idea of what might be running through Boykin's mind.
“Just being around him and knowing him,” Sherman said, “he knows that someone's there to take his job. It keeps you as a player working hard, not relaxing.”
Not making it out of the Jaguars' rookie camp—repeat, the Jaguars—was “disheartening” to Boykin. It also fueled him. And when that mentality picks up momentum, he said, “it's unstoppable.”
Heading into Year 3, he fully expects more doubts. His team drafting three more players could be interpreted as skepticism itself.
At his locker, Boykin was one of the quieter players. Yet he insists this “dog” mentality has always been a part of him.
“Oh, man, did I have it? I carry it with me everywhere,” Boykin said. “I've never believed that I can be stopped. You can't ask a receiver, 'Do you think someone's going to stop you?' What are they going to say, 'Yes?' No, you've got to have that. Even if you have to trick your mind or whatever.
“That's my mentality is just be a dog out there.”
All draft picks signed
All nine of the Green Bay Packers' draft picks are now under contract.
On Thursday, wide receiver Davante Adams and tight end Richard Rodgers reached deals with the Packers, the team announced.
Both have been practicing through organized team activities.
Adams (second round, 53rd overall) joins a competitive wide receiver group. Known for his sure hands at Fresno State, the 6-foot-1, 212-pounder could potentially push Jarrett Boykin for playing time.
Rodgers (third round, 98th overall) has stood out as much as anyone in camp. The son of an NFL assistant, he'll need to prove himself as a blocker when training camp rolls around.
The National Football Post reported that Adams reached a four-year, $3.933 million deal and that Rodgers' four-year deal is worth $2.761 million.