Tre Boston: A Closer Look at the UNC FS
By: Justin Partlow
Heading into the 2013 season, Tre Boston was seen as one of the better senior safety prospects in the nation. While not being the most physically imposing player, Boston displayed throughout his career the ability to make up for his limitations with instincts and ball skills. Boston had a good senior year, but still is underrated in many respects compared to some of the other big names in the 2014 draft class. Below I’ll take a look at what Boston does well, what he can improve on, and what he can project into being in the NFL.
When evaluating safety prospects and in general defensive back prospects, I tend to look heavily on technique and the things that make other defensive backs stand out from others. When evaluating Boston on film, he does things well, but also leaves some to be desired. For example when sitting down and looking at the film, Boston has a very good backpedal and is fast to recognize where the play is going. This is crucial especially into the NFL with so many teams implementing zone-read concepts along with the college spread looks. When you see him diagnose, it shows the technique as he’s able to react and close without using false steps or lunging. Rarely do you see Boston on film show as someone who looks out of control or lost.
While there are the parts I enjoy about Boston technique wise, he still leaves a lot to be desired and will need to have a lot cleaned up. On film the first thing I noticed with Boston was his tackling was quite inconsistent and the form in his tackling was inconsistent. Boston sometimes would wrap and use the correct form, but also would then come in and try to make the tackle with his shoulders. Also I noticed on film the angles that Boston would take at times were very “roundabout” compared to what he should have done. Most of these technique flaws can be coached up, but the tackling still at times can become a long term issue if he doesn’t make the changes early
In terms of pass coverage ability, this is where I think Boston can make his mark in the NFL. As mentioned earlier, Boston isn’t a huge physically imposing FS. What Boston does to make up for that size, is ball skills and diagnosing where the play is going to. Numerous times on film, Boston would play in coverages between being the single high safety, to play in a zone look and he would be able to diagnose where the play is going. On one play against Miami, Boston was in a single high look, and came all the way across the field to make a leaping interception. This was mainly due to his ability to diagnose where Stephen Morris was going to throw the ball, and was able to “click and close” and make the interception. Boston displays his cornerback skills as well on film. When having to defend WR’s or even TE’s, Boston uses his hands, albeit inconsistently, to try to throw his opponent off his route and can do a decent job at it.
Overall speaking of Boston in pass coverage, he’s someone who you can rely on to make some plays early on in his career because of the instincts and ball skills that he displays on film. If you can live with the technique fixes and the little things that Boston will need to add to, then you can see someone who can be an average to above average FS in the NFL.
Comparatively speaking, Boston is very inconsistent in his run defense, but for not a lack of effort. A lot of the issues stem back to the technique flaws mentioned earlier. Boston struggles with angles at times on film and the way he tackles is very inconsistent. It almost becomes frustrating when watching Boston on film because he displays someone who cares a lot on the field, but just is an inconsistent player. A lot of what concerns me with Boston is the inconsistency and the wonder if he can clean up the flaws and develop into the player that’s possible.
After watching film on Boston, the one thing that I keep coming back to is the instincts and ability to be a starting FS in the NFL. Boston isn’t the biggest and he’s not always the one guy who will be perfect, but he’s going to give 100% effort every single game he’s out there. Projecting him to the next level, I can see Boston as an above average FS in the NFL. This will take significant refinement early on, and I personally wouldn’t start Boston day one, but the ability is there moving forward. I gave an early preliminary grade of 4th round on Boston and it’s one that I’m still sticking to. In that 4th round range I know I can have a special teams contributor and someone who can rotate and play in some coverage plays early on, and can improve over time.