Today we continue our annual 90 player roster breakdown in 90 days. If you missed the previous player breakdowns, you can check them out here.
Name: Devontae Booker
Height: 5'11" Weight: 220
Age: 24 Experience: R
Devontae Booker was drafted in the 4th round (#136) out of Utah where he transferred in from junior college in 2014. After getting limited carries in his first three games of 2014, he averaged 130 yards per game for the rest of the year.
In his senior season he was named second-team All-Pac-12 racking up 1,261 yards and 11 TDs in 10 games before tearing his meniscus. He also finished his two-year career for the Utes with 80 receptions.
Devontae Booker was one of my favorite draft choices and an absolute steal in the 4th round. He was reportedly the 2nd rated running back on Denver’s board and likely dropped due to injury concerns. He is still being eased into action a bit as he recovers from his knee injury, but looks to be making a full recovery.
If Booker stays healthy, we'll look back at this pick as being one of the best in the 2016 draft. From his versatility to his one-cut downhill style, this is a great fit. Expect Booker to compete for a healthy dose of touches in 2016.
This is from NFL.com on his draft profile.
After the draft, we had a special report on MHR with a guest from the Football Educator, and now writer/scout for Inside the Pylon, break down our draft class, and here’s what he had to say about Booker.
I studied Booker early in the season last year and became a big fan of his. Not many runners possess his competitive toughness, play strength, and elusiveness. Add in his very good receiving ability out of the backfield and you have a pretty special player. His straight line speed is solid, not great, and his lateral quickness is also just solid. His age (will be 24-years old May 27th) and coming off a season-ending knee injury were mitigating factors that led to his fall to the 4th round.
The zone-based scheme that Denver employs requires decisiveness, vision, and burst from their tailbacks. Booker has these traits, plus offers the toughness factor that Elway loves. I would expect Booker to challenge the depth chart for carries instantly, and likely see 10-15 carries a game on a consistent basis throughout the season. I foresee Booker being a home-run addition to the club.
Devontae Booker: elusiveness & functional strength on full display as he spins out of 2 tackles, runs through a 3rd pic.twitter.com/DP9By3qyZl— Brandon Thorn (@VeteranScout) September 27, 2015
Additionally, Pro Football Focus gave their scouting report on Booker during the draft.
What he does best:
• One of the first things you will notice when watching Booker is his ability to make sharp, quick cuts. He can stop on a dime to make a cut, and then has the quickness to accelerate through small holes before they close up. He also utilizes jump-cuts well.
• Even more impressive than his agility is his vision. His ability to read blocks and find open holes allows him to make the most of his carries behind a below-average offensive line, and should fit well in a zone-blocking scheme at the next level. He’s also very decisive in his cuts.
• Booker is more than capable of breaking arm tackles.
• He’s an effective receiver out of the backfield who can make defenders miss in the open field.
When you look at his highlights and his tape, you can see what they are talking about. Booker looks smooth and is fun to watch run. I also like his ability to run through first contact.
You can also see more video clips here.
From PFF’s scouting report:
• Booker is quite quick, but he doesn’t have great top-end speed to consistently outrun defenders and turn medium-length runs into big gains.
• While he can break arm tackles, Booker isn’t the best at churning out yards through final contact.
• Ball security: he had six fumbles in 2014, and cut that down to three in 2015, but nine in two years is still a bit of a concern.
• He graded out average as a pass-blocker, but wasn’t tested a lot in 2015. He stayed in to block on less than 30 percent of passing plays last year, likely due to his receiving ability.
• Booker missed Utah’s final three games, the Senior Bowl, and the NFL combine following knee surgery in November for a torn meniscus.
Really lack of top end speed and health are the two biggest knocks on Booker coming out of the draft, and they aren’t that big of concerns to me. If he did have top end speed, he would be a Todd Gurley or Adrian Peterson and we would have never been able to draft him because that would make him a can’t miss, elite prospect.
Besides, he doesn’t really need top end speed to be effective. His pro comparison, Arian Foster is a perfect example of using quickness and vision instead of elite speed.
He seems like he is coming back fine from his knee injury, but that will be something to watch.
Gary Kubiak on Booker:
“He’s impressive. Today, he was really doing some great stuff. He’s right there. We know how he’s pushing our veteran players. The thing that’s been impressive with Booker, is how well he’s done mentally, football wise. He’s keeping up on third down. We have a really good player there, so we’ll see how far he can come. We’ll play him a lot in the preseason. It’ll be up to him. We’ll see.”
RB Coach Eric Studesville:
"He works hard in the classroom. He’s learned everything. You’re starting to see what he can do. He can do a lot of things — run, pass protect, catch out of the backfield — so yeah, I’d play him right now."
Focus has been on the QBs, quietly Denver RB D. Booker having a great night.— Benjamin Allbright (@AllbrightNFL) August 12, 2016
Booker is your #2 running back behind C.J. Anderson. At this point, it is not a matter of if he contributes this year, but rather a questions of when and how much.