Paul Boyette Jr., the pride of Humble, Texas, and a five year defensive lineman for the Texas Longhorns now finds himself on the other side of the country and in unfamiliar territory. He is one of the crop of undrafted free agents that the Oakland Raiders offered a tryout to at their rookie minicamp in Alameda.
The 6-2, 310 pound prospect turned in 100 tackles, 17 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks during his career in Austin and looks to find a spot on the Raiders’ average defensive line for the upcoming season. For help achieving this goal, Boyette Jr. has enlisted former 8-year NFL defensive lineman Kevin Vickerson as his mentor, according to HookEm.com.
Vickerson’s success in the league represents everything Boyette Jr. is hoping to achieve in his own career. An unheralded prospect after a collegiate career at Michigan State that forced his way onto the Dolphins’ roster in 2005 and never looked back. “The way he kept his body going and kept competing each play and getting to the Super Bowl,” Boyette says of Vickerson in the same article, “is what’s getting me ready for the next level.”
Realistically, Boyette Jr. is going to need all the help he can get. Although it does happen across the league each year, the likelihood of undrafted free agents finding longterm success in the NFL is highly improbable.
For further inspiration Boyette Jr. needn’t look far however; Raiders’ RB Jalen Richard segued his tryout into a full-time roster spot last season for the Silver and Black.
Bench: 29 Reps
Vertical: 26 1/2”
Broad Jump: 8’07”
**All testing numbers taken from Texas Longhorns’ Pro Day and made available by www.NFLDraftScout.com
2016 -- 34 TKL, 5.5 TFL, 2 SCK
2015 – 37 TKL, 8.0 TFL, 3 SCK
2014 – 29 TKL, 3.5 TFL, 0.5 SCK
2013 – 2 TKL, 1.0 TFL, 0 SCK
Boyette Jr. is a big, strong lineman that could bring some much needed force to the Raiders’ porous interior defensive front. His 29 reps on the bench press at his Pro Day would’ve put him in the top tier for D-lineman had he been invited to the NFL combine.
He played on a pretty awful Texas team that wasn’t above .500 in any of the last three seasons, but he did flash strong potential occasionally during his collegiate career. In 2015 he posted nine tackles in a single game against Baylor, impressive numbers for an interior lineman.
He played in over 40 games at Texas, so although his stats might not scream superstar, at least he was able to consistently stay on the field. The Raiders’ interior line has been marred with injury and inconsistent play over the past few seasons so Boyette Jr. could hypothetically offer a reprieve from some of those woes if he were to make the team.
By all accounts Boyette Jr. is a hard working and determined young man who will do what it takes to make it in the league. He has taken the steps necessary to put himself in a position to be coached and mentored on what it will take to follow in Kevin Vickerson’s footsteps as a mainstay in the NFL—all that’s left is production on the practice field.
Let’s be honest, being able to avoid injury and stay on the field simply isn’t enough in the NFL. You need to be a game changer and put your signature stamp on every game you play in. If you can’t, there’s droves of NFL hopefuls waiting in the lurch to take your paycheque.
Boyette Jr. didn’t really show that he’s capable of accomplishing this task during his career at Texas. His numbers were just good, not great and although he was fairly multifaceted for a big defensive lineman, he wasn’t able to do enough to transform a mediocre Longhorns defense during a long career in Austin.
Now this might be an unfair criticism—football is, after all, a team sport—but at the end of the day Boyette Jr. spent five years at Texas and only managed to start in eight games. If he wasn’t able to crack the starting lineup of a sub .500 team in the Big 12, it’s highly unlikely he will be able to do so with an NFL team that went 12-4 in 2016.
What he brings to the Raiders
Boyette Jr. brings a lot of experience playing the game of football to the Raiders. We always hear about prospects who have immense potential, but didn’t start playing football until late and still need to learn how the game is played. That’s not at all the case with Boyette Jr.
According to www.texassports.com, he began playing football at the age of 4. He also has strong NFL bloodlines, as his uncle Garland was a Pro Bowler with the Houston Oilers and another uncle, Ernie, also spent time in the NFL.
Boyette Jr. has the size, the attitude and the football IQ to play in the NFL, but the production didn’t reflect the potential during his college career. Was it because he played on a subpar team? Did coaches not utilize his gifts the right way, or is he simply just not an NFL caliber football player?
Those will be the questions that Ken Norton Jr. and his staff will have to quickly evaluate with Boyette Jr. now that he’s in the building. Only time will tell if “PB&J” can successfully replicate the blueprint laid by Kevin Vickerson over a decade ago.