Fourth Round, 102nd Pick
TCU's defense and former quarterback Andy Dalton got most of the ink during their rise to college football prominence, but one of their wide receivers has been playing at a high level for the last three years with little fanfare.
That could change when Josh Boyce gets to the NFL.
What does Boyce have to offer to teams that could consider taking him as high as the third round?
Boyce is a thickly built, strong wide receiver, who resembles a running back more than a wideout. He has a fifth gear to pull away from defenders after the catch, and he has good feet to snap through breaks in his routes. Boyce is tough after the catch with good balance and field vision. He is also good at making plays on contested balls in the air.
Since he's under six feet with shorter arms, Boyce isn't going to have a great high-wire act in the NFL or create size mismatches with cornerbacks. He is only an adequate blocker at best and sometimes barely contributes in this area. Some believe that his lack of natural size will limit him to the slot in the pros.
Boyce ran a 4.38 at 5'11" and 206 pounds, which helps confirm that his speed will translate to the NFL. His 22 bench-press reps back up his reputation as a strong receiver. With only 31.25" arms and a 34" vertical, Boyce doesn't really make up the disadvantage of being only 5'11" when he is in the air. Boyce's excellent 6.68 three-cone time shows up in his route running.
Since he already completed his degree in sociology, Boyce's choice to come out early for the NFL draft this year was made a little easier. He might have put up his terrific combine numbers with a broken pinkie toe—it was discovered after the workout.
Boyce lined up both outside and in the slot in TCU's spread offense.
With a good burst out of his stance and a quick, short stride, Boyce usually gets into the route tree quickly. He does sometimes hop out of his stance and hesitate. While this does help him beat the jam, it can delay his arrival at the break in his route.
Boyce is very crisp on double moves, and he also has the guts to work the middle of the field without fear. His breaks tend to leave the corner a beat behind and create separation, although Boyce is faster with the ball in his hands than he is running routes.
Boyce is one of the better "hands catchers" in the draft. He is not exceptional and will body catch or double clutch at times, but his hands are certainly above average. Boyce can make catches outside of his frame and the occasional circus catch.
Even though Boyce has a smaller catch radius than his peers, he is good at high-pointing the ball and making the grab at extension. Tracking the deep ball over his shoulder is easy for Boyce, and he can also make plays on balls that he has to compete for. Boyce generally plays with a "my ball" mentality when it's time to make a play.
Run After Catch
The lack of natural length is somewhat compensated for by the added benefit of Boyce's running back frame after the catch. He is a rugged runner who will break tackles and get yards after contact, but Boyce is also elusive. He sets tacklers up for one-on-one moves in the open field, but he also has terrific vision and knows exactly when to cut back against the grain to extend a play. Boyce's speed is most apparent after the catch, when he can routinely pull away from all but the fastest defensive backs.
Sometimes you will see Boyce find and occupy a target as a blocker, but at other times he'll just go through the motions. Even when he engages his opponent, Boyce doesn't really move or physically defeat the defender. The best you'll see is a stalemate, which is usually not sustained to the whistle. Plays that hinge of Boyce's blocking are generally unsuccessful.
Scheme Versatility/Future Role
While Boyce's height may cause him to be pigeonholed as a slot receiver, he has the foot quickness and long speed to be an outside receiver. In either spot, he'll threaten the defense with vertical speed and a good gain after the catch. Boyce could also get a look as a kick returner.