Lions draft prospect of the day: Khristian Boyd, DT, Northern Iowa

The Lions Draft Prospect of the Day is a small-school standout who has a private visit set with Detroit before the 2024 NFL draft. 

The focus for these potential Lions prospects is on players who should hold some appeal for Detroit in the draft. Not all will be top-100 players, and today’s prospect might not even be drafted in the first 200 slots in April. 

Khristian Boyd, DT, Northern Iowa

Height: 6-foot-2

Weight: 320 pounds (measured at Shrine Bowl)

Boyd began at Northern Iowa as a 3-star prospect out of Missouri and redshirted in 2018, his freshman year. He was a role player on the Panthers’ defensive front for the next three seasons before stepping up into a full-time starting role in 2022. In those final two seasons, playing a combination of 1T and 3T.

His game blossomed with a more aggressive approach from a new defensive coordinator in 2023. After bagging just one sack and five total TFLs in 10 games in 2022, Boyd finished with 3.5 sacks, 6.5 TFLs, and more than doubled his QB pressure total (from 18 to 40) in his final year at the FCS-level school. Boyd kept the momentum rolling forward with an excellent Hula Bowl week that followed into a great Shrine Bowl performance.

Boyd turned 24 in February.

What I like

  • Explosive power on the interior
  • Set a school record with 38 bench press reps at UNI pro day
  • Good first step and burst off the snap
  • Fights for every inch of penetration and movement
  • Showed improved hand placement and variety of pass rush moves in ’23
  • Finishes with control and power
  • Good anchor strength against heads-up blocking
  • Showed a dominant confidence and attitude as his career progressed

What worries me going into the NFL

  • Sorely lacks length on the inside with 31″ arm length
  • Doesn’t have much lateral agility or quickness after his first step
  • Wasn’t productive as a pass rusher at the FCS level until very late in his career
  • Struggles to disengage from heads-up blocks and double-teams
  • Doesn’t always seem to have a plan as a pass rusher
  • Poor range and minimal closing burst in run defense

In light of “best and worst games I watched”, I’ll just share the four UNI games where I watched Boyd: Iowa State, North Dakota State, Illinois State, and South Dakota (’22). I also watched all his reps during Shrine Bowl practices.

Overall

Boyd is a compact, powerful interior defensive lineman. He’s got a nice motor and a developing sense of using his hands and shoulders as a pass rusher, though nearly all of his game is based on winning an early power battle and getting leverage off his nice first step. Boyd doesn’t have the length, sheer size, or lower-body drive to be much more than a space occupier against the run, and he’s unlikely to generate a significant pass rush of his own volition against the bigger/quicker/stronger NFL lines.

Despite the hopeful hype coming out of the Shrine Bowl week, where he was indeed very good, the tape grade from the level of competition is of being marginally draftable. Boyd is a candidate for the final Lions draft pick, and anything before that is too high for my tastes. Would make a nice priority UDFA signing.

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Title: Lions draft prospect of the day: Khristian Boyd, DT, Northern Iowa
Author: Jeff Risdon

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