Too soon? Ravens' Miles Boykin draws comparison to Michael Thomas

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Stepping onto the field at M&T Bank Stadium for the first time, rookie third-round pick Miles Boykin delivered the biggest plays of Saturday's open practice, catching two 40-plus yard touchdown passes from Lamar Jackson.

Through four days of training camp, Boykin has been the most impressive wide receiver on the Baltimore Ravens, providing hope as a promising target for Jackson and drawing an extraordinary compliment from his teammate.

"I keep telling him every day, I’m like, ‘Dude, you look like [former Saints teammate] Michael Thomas,'" said Ravens wide receiver Willie Snead IV, who played two seasons with Thomas. "I remember when Michael Thomas came to New Orleans, he was built the same, had the same mentality, just trying to get better every day."

Boykin certainly looks the part of an NFL receiver and does measure up physically. At 6 feet 4, 220 pounds, Boykin has a similar stature to Thomas (6-3, 212).

Whether Boykin come close to the productivity is an entirely different matter. In three NFL seasons, Thomas has gone to two Pro Bowls, posted three 1,000-yard plus seasons and has 321 receptions.

The Ravens are excited by Boykin's fast start, but coach John Harbaugh pumped the brakes a bit.

"If he can keep going on this kind of track, he’s going to have a good season. But, it’s early," coach John Harbaugh said. "He has a lot of work in front of him. They’ll start figuring out where to try to stop him out there. We’ll see how he responds."

Many expected that the excitement surrounding the early part of training camp would center on a wide receiver. But first-round pick Marquise Brown remains on the Non-Football Injury list as he recovers from January foot surgery. His return could come as soon the next couple of days.

Boykin, the 13th wide receiver selected in this year's draft, had a quiet offseason because he was slowed by a hamstring injury in spring workouts. The former Notre Dame star started making his presence known the week leading up to training camp during the rookie-only practices at the Ravens' facility.

That momentum carried over into training camp, where Boykin is beginning to solidify his spot on the roster. It's possible that the top three receivers for Baltimore will be Snead, Brown and Boykin.

Asked about Boykin, Jackson started shaking his head, as in disbelief.

"He's nice," Jackson said. "The guy's fast. He runs his routes crisp. He's got sure hands. He's amazing right now."

Boykin's speed has allowed him to get behind the likes of starting cornerback Jimmy Smith. A long strider, Boykin needs to take only a few steps before gaining separation.

His route-running has helped him get open on everything from slants to the open spots in the red zone. His ability to gain yards after the catch has caused visions of short passes turning into big gains.

“We’re still early into camp and we have such a long way to go," Boykin said. "Basically, the whole preseason. But each day I work on my craft and try to get better."

While it is early, Boykin is off to one of the strongest starts by a Ravens rookie receiver. That position has been the biggest smudge on the franchise's draft resume. No wide receiver drafted by the Ravens has made the Pro Bowl (Jermaine Lewis went to it as a returner), and only one has produced a 1,000-yard season (Torrey Smith in 2013).

Can Boykin reverse this trend?

"Miles is taking it one day at a time, progressing well," offensive coordinator Greg Roman said. "When you see that, you know what you’re looking at when you see those kinds of plays being made. The potential is there, and he just needs to continue to have a great attitude, which he does. He’ll keep getting better every day. It’s going to be a beautiful thing."