EAGLES SEND NICKEL BOYKIN TO PITT, WHERE HE MAY START

By Jack Ryan

In the NFL, one team’s nickel back is another team’s potential secondary savior.

Take Brandon Boykin, the Eagles’ fourth-round 2012 draft pick, which is what the Pittsburgh Steelers did!

Pittsburgh is upgrading its defensive backfield by trading a conditional fifth-round 2016 pick for Eagles Boykin.

Boykin has played in 48 games with seven interceptions and 32 pass breakups. He will report to St. Vincent College, the Steelers’ training camp site, today.

The fifth-round pick the Steelers are sending the Eagles can turn into a fourth-rounder based on playing time, according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Caplan.

With second-round pick Senquez Golson out with an injury, the Steelers are adding depth at cornerback.

Boykin has played mostly slot corner in Philly but has been vocal about wanting to start outside, a chance Pittsburgh could give him.

The trade sends the message that the Steelers are not going to let last year’s problems follow them again. The 2014 Steelers were tied for 25th, with 11 interceptions and 27th in passing defense (253 YPG). Even coach Mike Tomlin has been putting defensive backs through individual drills at training camp practices.

Boykin is considered undersized for an outside corner but has a 40-inch vertical and enters a contract year. Boykin had one interception last year after a six-turnover campaign in 2013.

“This year, I guarantee will be even better,” Boykin told Philly.com. “I feel way better than I did last year. I was battling a hamstring from like the second game all the way throughout the season. … This offseason, did yoga, did a lot of stuff just to get my body right, and I feel like I did in 2013.”

The Steelers will get their first official look at Boykin in the Hall of Fame Game against the Minnesota Vikings on Aug. 9. Boykin will have five training camp practices with the team to get situated.

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