Devontae Booker was a very impressive high school athlete out of Sacramento, California, but lacked the test scores to get into a Division I college program. This led him to attend American River College after High School, and finally transfer to the University of Utah in 2014. In his first year, he ended up splitting time at Utah with Bubba Poole, but took over the starting role due to his impressive performance. He maintained strong production in his second year, despite succumbing to a torn meniscus in his final season. At 23 years old (24 when the NFL season will start), Booker will enter the 2016 Draft as one of the oldest RB prospects, but also one of the best.
|May 27, 1992
|Bench (225 lbs.)
|20 Yard Shuttle
|3 Cone Drill
|40 Yard Dash (10 yd. split)
|60 Yard Shuttle
|University of Utah (2014-2015)
|268 att, 1,261 yards, 4.7 ypc, 11 TDs
|37 rec, 316 yards, 8.5 ypc, 0 TDs
|292 att, 1,512 yards, 5.2 ypc, 10 TDs
|43 rec, 306 yards, 7.1 ypc, 2 TDs
- Strong burst to explode to edge and past defenders at the line of scrimmage
- Sometimes got ahead of himself and ran into his linemen with no chance to cut off of them
- Shows flashes of a very good jump cut, also has a spin move that provides good, but not elite elusiveness
- Inconsistent in making the first defender in the backfield miss
- Despite decent size, like to try to dodge around defenders instead of power through them
- Earlier in career, attempted to bounce runs outside far too often, and in hopeless situations
- Matured to understand when bouncing it outside wasn’t a solid option, and ended up settling short gains instead of losing yardage
- Showed generally strong patience to set up blockers for success
- Vision allows him to find holes and maximize yardage
- Lacks the top speed to pull away from defensive backs
- Inconsistent pad level at best. Sometimes he’s able to drive forward for extra yardage, but he fails to lower his pads into contact far too often
- Generally a solid pass protector when stand up blocking, but didn’t have many opportunities for sustained pass blocking because of offensive design
- Struggles at cut blocking, often aiming incorrectly
- Can make catches off platform, but has an average catch radius
- After the catch, he can be effective due to his rushing traits, but is not a special player in open space
This article has multiple pages, examining different traits that Booker displays, and discussing whether or not those traits bode well for his transition to the NFL game. The first three pages deal with his running traits, while the fourth page covers his work in the passing game and includes projections for Booker in the NFL.
In order to watch Booker, I went to Draft Breakdown, which has five of his college games.
As a runner, Devontae Booker has a plethora of skills, but hasn’t quite put it all together on the field. This likely has something to do with his lack of experience in a top level offense, despite his age, as Booker visibly improved his decision-making from 2014 to 2015. Still, there are other aspects of his game that he needs to clean up, like his pad level.
Booker’s best trait as a runner is his burst, which jumps off the screen when turning on the tape. He doesn’t have spectacular long speed, but he does have strong short area quickness and good power when he lowers his pads. These traits will be further discussed in the coming sections.
Booker displays solid vision while he runs, especially at the second level. However, when entering the upper ranks of college football, Booker had a lesson to learn. He suddenly couldn’t dominate lesser athletes, and he ended up trying to bounce runs that didn’t have a chance for success.
Fortunately, in his 2015 tape, Booker seemed to kick this habit and turned runs inside, particularly against Michigan. This kind of decision-making will need to continue as Booker transitions to the pro level.
On the first play above, Booker showcases strong second level vision, first cutting to open space and then using his blocker as a shield to get past a DB. However, the second and third plays clearly show an area where Booker needed improvement. He consciously chose to bounce the runs outside when pursuit had an angle to get to him in the backfield. This is something that almost certainly worked against the lesser competition Booker faced in Junior College, but it didn’t work on the DI level and it definitely won’t work in the NFL.
During the 2015 season, Booker showed improvement in his vision and decision making, notably by not choosing to make the same mistakes he did the year prior. In the fourth play, Booker cuts up inside a defensive end when he also had an option to bounce. Running downhill was the correct decision.
On the fifth play above, Booker does an excellent job setting up his blocker for success against Eric Kendricks, and on the sixth play he does a very nice job of pressing the hole and finding a cutback lane across multiple gaps.
Short Area Quickness
As a runner, Booker shows very good short area quickness. However, he does not match up with the elite in this draft class or the NFL. His best move is his spin move, which he uses very effectively. His jump cut is also very solid, but he lacks the ability to consistently string multiple moves together, which is something elite elusive RBs do.
The first play above shows off Booker’s impressive spin move. He makes one player miss completely, and then transitions into another one. He also makes a good display of power to have a defender just bounce off of him. Booker’s second spin move is more of a power move than a finesse move.
While Booker’s short area quickness is very good, it’s not elite, and he can’t recover his balance quickly enough to make a play on the second gif above. However, his balance, which is quite important for short area quickness, is generally quite impressive, as shown by the third play above.
The fifth play shows off a common example of Booker’s jump cut. On this play, he strings multiple moves together, which isn’t something he was able to do too often. He does a good job of making multiple defenders miss. Finally, the last play shows the most impressive jump cut Booker made in the five games watch, where he crosses over a defender in the backfield.