Xavius Boyd, OLB, Western Kentucky (HT: 6’1 3/8” WT: 236 lbs)
- Adequate foot quickness and change-of-direction ability.
- Rangy enough to cover lots of ground with long speed to close in space.
- Puts his foot in the ground and breaks forward with fine acceleration.
- Decisive coming forward to fit the run, gets into gaps before blockers can get to him.
- Aggressive with his hands to disrupt and reroute receivers in coverage without holding.
- Spies route-runners well in zone coverage to make anticipatory plays.
- Shows flashes of hand usage to fight off blocks and scrape quickly.
- Can be elusive in short areas to dip around blocks, especially in pursuit of perimeter run plays.
- Wraps well as a tackler, rarely misses when he gets his hands on a ball-carrier.
- Highly experienced, started a majority of games during all four collegiate seasons.
- Productive in numerous statistical categories with continuous improvement.
- Undersized for a traditional linebacker role in the box. Lean frame.
- Not a technically sound linebacker in terms of footwork and pursuit angles.
- Lacks ability to read keys and react appropriately with consistency.
- Prone to false steps due to uncertainty, tends to bounce around at the second level.
- Too reliant on hand usage to engage route-runners at times instead of moving his feet.
- Little potential as a pass-rusher, tends to run into blockers instead of into space.
- Takes gambles in pursuit and takes himself out of plays as a result.
- Inconsistent firing his hands and taking on blocks with leverage.
- Can be handled by run-blockers a bit too easily, not enough size and strength taking on blocks.
- Tends to aim too high as a tackler and not drive through ball-carriers.
- Rivals.com rated him as 3-star prospect in the recruiting class of 2010.
- 2013 first-team All-Sun Belt Conference.
- Moved from safety position to linebacker before his freshman season at Western Kentucky.
- East-West Shrine Game participant.
Xavius Boyd played his college career in the shadow of the more highly regarded Andrew Jackson, who played next to him at inside linebacker. Boyd has a brighter future in the NFL, though.
After learning that Boyd was a converted safety from his high school days, his tendencies as a linebacker make sense. He still has issues with footwork and technique when it comes to linebacker play. His read-and-react deficiencies also make sense.
The plan for Boyd should be to draft him as a depth player in a 4-3 base defense who could be developed into a nickel linebacker at the very least. His athletic potential is worth investing in.
If a team trusts its linebackers coach to grow a young player who's inexperienced at the position but has shown improvement and flashes of brilliance, then Boyd is a smart investment for the future.