Being 6-foot or taller is an advantage for NFL cornerbacks as defenses try to match up with an influx of bigger receivers and tight ends.
But it’s not required to be successful.
Take Brandon Boykin, for instance.
The Philadelphia Eagles cornerback is 5-foot-10, 185 pounds and is among the best in the league. He had six interceptions last season, second-best in the NFL. Boykin secured a huge interception in the regular-season finale at Dallas, which propelled the Eagles to their 10th victory and an NFC East title.
“Brandon's a tremendous athlete,” Eagles defensive backs coach John Lovett told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “Brandon's shortcoming is basically his size, and again, outside, that will get exposed. It's not about him going out and covering a guy for one play or five plays. It's over the long haul.”
Over the long haul, Boykin has been quite effective.
“Football is a game of chess; the only difference is all 22 pieces move at once,” assistant defensive backs coach Todd Lyght told the Inquirer. “(If) you've got Brandon Boykin on the edge, trying to stop a 300-pound lineman on a sweep play, that's tough duty ... Some guys think of themselves only as cover corners. Well, if you're just a cover corner, you can't play for the Philadelphia Eagles. You have to be able to hit and cover. Asante Samuel was a great player in this organization for a long time, but he really wasn't noted for his tackling. If you can't tackle, you're not going to play for us.”
Boykin not only played, he thrived. He sealed the division title and is back once again to be an anchor on what is expected to be an improved defense.
“If you look at the draft every year, there are always guys getting drafted in the first round who are 5-9, 5-10,” Boykin said. “It just matters where your playing style fits better.”