Notre Dame football receiver Miles Boykin will be thrust into a more prominent role in 2018.
The Notre Dame football team lost some serious talent at the skill positions during the offseason — thanks to both the NFL Draft and graduation. One of the biggest losses was leading receiver Equinimeous St. Brown. He finished 2017 with some fairly modest numbers, thanks largely to some erratic play at quarterback from Brandon Wimbush and a strong rushing attack that was the bread and butter of the Irish offense.
Heading into the 2018 campaign, it looks like Mile Boykin is the top contender to replace St. Brown as the No. 1 receiver in the Notre Dame passing attack.
Boykin brings a different build and skill set than St. Brown. Between that and some of the strides Wimbush is making in the passing game — including some chemistry forming between the two — there’s a chance Boykin could have significantly better numbers than what St. Brown posted in 2017.
I’m going to project that the losses of running back Josh Adams and offensive linemen Quenton Nelson and Mike McGlinchey slightly reduce the number of times Notre Dame rushes the ball — particularly in key situations early in the season. Additionally, if Wimbush is more comfortable in the pocket and now has a larger No. 1 target to throw to, logic says Notre Dame’s passing numbers should go up.
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If Brandon Wimbush can attempt 15 percent more passes than he did in 2017 while completing 52 percent of those throws, that would give him roughly 164 completions. If he spreads those completions out equally and his top target gets around 25 percent of those completed passes, that would put Boykin at right around 41 catches on the year.
Boykin had some long catches that helped boost his yards per catch average to 21.1. in 2017. I’m guessing with a larger sample size and Wimbush concentrating on completing more intermediate, high-percentage throws, Boykin’s average drops to around 17.5 yard per catch. That puts Boykin’s projected receiving yardage (in these non-scientific, spitball-like projections) at just about 717 yards in 2018.
In terms of scoring, I’m also expecting Wimbush to throw the ball more near the goal line, thanks to the size and ability of both Boykin and tight end Alize Mack. Just over 12 percent of St. Brown’s receptions in 2017 were touchdowns. If you only boost that number to 15 percent for Boykin while assuming Wimbush is going to throw more in the red zone, projecting 8 touchdown receptions for Miles Boykin is fairly realistic and an attainable goal.
Regardless of what the final numbers look like, it’s pretty safe to assume that Wimbush’s growth and a bit of roster turnover is almost certainly going to change how the Notre Dame offense looks and operates during the 2018 campaign, and Miles Boykin could be the single biggest beneficiary of that change.