While scouts flocked to Starkville to see burgeoning first-round defensive tackle Fletcher Cox attack quarterbacks last fall, they couldn't help but notice the play of the Bulldogs' high-motor starting nose tackle. Boyd decided not to leave for the NFL with his fellow junior after the season, in hopes of even bettering his draft stock as a senior.
The U.S. Army All-American racked up an astounding 266 tackles in his final two high school years before eschewing offers from just about every SEC school to attend MSU. Boyd was rewarded for buying into head coach Dan Mullen's system, played in every game (with three starts) and making 17 tackles. He took over the full-time starter job as a sophomore, racking up 24 tackles, 7.5 for loss, and 2.5 sacks in 13 games, and then saw his production rise again in 2011 (51 tackles, eight for loss, 5.5 sacks). As a senior, Boyd's numbers dropped off a bit as a senior, as he only nabbed 33 tackles (2.5 for loss) and 1.5 sacks.
Has ever-churning legs that continually keeps his feet moving while engaged to press the pocket and when chasing ballcarriers down the line. Flashes a burst off the line, keeps pad level low. Maintains leverage, holds up at the point. Displays a nice swim move to beat blockers. Flashes the quickness to attack gaps on zone runs and spin off blocks to get into plays when singled up.
His average size can be an issue when facing stronger, longer interior offensive linemen (not to mention strong doubles) who can land their punches to send him backwards. Does move to his sides very well, lacks agility. Doesn't display the speed to pursue. Scouts aren't sure if Boyd can be a true three-technique, either, meaning he'll be limited to a one-gap nose tackle role.
Boyd's average size might scare off teams who aren't sure if he's athletic enough to make the switch to the three-technique spot, but some NFL coach will push his general manager to use a mid-round pick on his constant motor especially if he again produces (eight for loss, 5.5 sacks in 2011) without first-round pick Fletcher Cox garnering extra attention this fall.
Future Hall of Famer
A once-in-a-generation type prospect who could change how his position is played
An impact player with the ability/intangibles to become a Pro Bowl player. Expect to start immediately except in a unique situation (i.e. behind a veteran starter).
A quality player who will contribute to the team early on and is expected to develop into a starter. A reliable player who brings value to the position.
A prospect with the ability to make team as a backup/role player. Needs to be a special teams contributor at applicable positions. Players in the high range of this category might have long-term potential.
A player with solid measurables, intangibles, college achievements, or a developing skill that warrants an opportunity in an NFL camp. In the right situation, he could earn a place on a 53-man roster, but most likely will be a practice squad player or a camp body.