Before the season began, I wrote about the opportunity for Kris Boyd. The Minnesota Vikings were losing Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes, and Mackensie Alexander, so there was ample opportunity for Minnesota’s young corners. Initially, Mike Hughes and Holton Hill were the starters, but they are both on the IR. Cameron Dantzler is also hurt, so the Vikings are understandably thin at one of football’s most important positions. Boyd is thus seeing plenty of snaps on defense, and he is showing that he is capable of being a good option for Mike Zimmer’s secondary.
Kris Boyd and His Sophomore Season
Boyd didn’t earn very much playing time to start the season. Injuries have opened an opportunity, though, and Boyd is making the most of his chance. On Monday night, Boyd was Minnesota’s fifth-highest rated defensive player, per PFF. Overall, Boyd is PFF’s 45th best corner, a notable feat considering that he is a seventh-round sophomore who began as Minnesota’s fifth corner on the depth chart.
In the video below, you’ll see Boyd and rookie first-round pick Jeff Gladney doing a nice job of communicating before the snap. That kind of communication comes from reps. It’s hard to make those plays if you spend most of your time on the bench.
Lot to like in coverage here! Kris Boyd on Marvin Jones is great and look at Jeff Gladney confidently communicating before the snap (called this out on Locked On today). pic.twitter.com/USzMElkvu1
— Luke Braun (@LukeBraunNFL) November 10, 2020
He has long had a reputation for being a physical player. Against the Chicago Bears, Boyd demonstrated his physicality and competitiveness at numerous points. At times, this aggressiveness gets Boyd in trouble. Detroit Lions wide receiver Marvin Jones scored a touchdown against the Vikings, largely because of Boyd over-pursuing his man. Boyd should have been working towards Jones’ inside hip; instead, Boyd went too fast as he pursued Jones’ outside hip. The end result was a nifty move from the perpetually-underrated Jones that left Boyd completely out of the play (take a look at the highlights just after the 5:15 mark).
This was such a nice play by Kris Boyd to basically make Anthony Miller tackle his own teammate. https://t.co/J6YokOadxk
— Chad Graff (@ChadGraff) November 17, 2020
Of course, it’s worth remembering that Zimmer is doing a lot to help his corners. Harrison Smith and Anthony Harris are commonly tasked with helping the corners by playing Cover-2. While this coverage helps in pass defense, it makes run defense more difficult since the safeties are further from the line of scrimmage. Part of what makes it all work, though, is the simple fact that Boyd is an aggressive player, one who is more than willing to play run defense. Gladney is also an excellent tackler.
Boyd Against the Dallas Cowboys
Don’t let the 2-7 record fool you. The Dallas Cowboys have a ton of talent on their roster. Perhaps their greatest area of strength rests is receiver, which is where Boyd factors into the equation.
Boyd will spend his day trying to slow Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, and Michael Gallup. It’s an unenviable position to be in. Though he isn’t Patrick Mahomes, Andy Dalton is still a reasonably competent NFL quarterback. Boyd will therefore need to be sharp on Sunday. Of course, Ezekiel Elliott will also present a challenge, so Boyd’s physicality will again be tested.
If Kris Boyd continues to play well in his sophomore season, then the Vikings will have a much better shot at succeeding. Indeed, perhaps the greatest area of concern for the Vikings has been their secondary. Continued strong play from Boyd, then, will certainly make a difference as Minnesota continues their unlikely playoff push.
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