In this 2016 NFL Draft profile, we analyze the strengths and weaknesses of running back Devontae Booker out of Utah.
The former Junior-college star and Washington State signee, Booker had a surprising college career at Utah. After running the ball a mere 31 times during his first three games with the Utes in 2014, Booker’s production soared as he averaged 130 yards per game throughout the remainder of the season. He finished the 2014 season with 1,512 yards, and 10 scores.
Booker recorded an All-Pac-12 senior campaign in which the Utah running back rushed for 1,261 yards and 11 touchdowns in 10 games before suffering a season-ending torn meniscus. There’s no denying the fact that Booker is an explosive, powerful and quick back.
Oct 17, 2015; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Utes running back Devontae Booker (23) runs for a touchdown during the second half against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Utah won 34-18. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports
His ability to beat defenders with his legs as well as serving as a reliable receiving back should attract NFL owners and general managers who are looking for a potential future option in this year’s Draft. Booker currently stands at 5’11, weighs in at 219 pounds, has a 31 5/8″ arm length and 8 5/8″ hands. The young college back also recorded 22 reps on the bench press at the 2016 NFL Combine.
Quick, elusive runner. Stays on his feet and finds holes in the defenses. Quick to recover once he looks like he’s been beaten. Hard to tackle, flexible, athletic runner. Powerful back, can take hits and easily dish them out as well. Has great vision, never gives up on the play even when defenders have him bottled up. reliable receiving back.
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80 career receptions in 23 games. 14 career 100-yard rushing games. 2,733 rushing yards with Utah.
Despite his tremendous speed and ability to squeeze through holes in the defenses, Booker doesn’t possess the burst a running back needs in order to excel from one spot to the other. NFL defensive ends and linebackers will be able to catch him from behind. Needs improvement in pass protection.
NFL teams may be seeking a running back with a bigger frame. Had six fumbles in his previous season with the Utes. His fumbling and average breakaway speed could be a major concern in the NFL. Put his body on the line. Not afraid to take big hits or dish a big hit out which could potentially cut his career short or have him face possible future injuries. His age also concerns teams as Booker will be a 24-year old rookie come the start of the 2016 season.
DRAFT DAY PREDICTION
A versatile running back whose production and value increases as he receives an increased workload. Booker is without a doubt a three-down running back who has the ability to power through defenders for short runs as well as possessing great vision to change direction and record massive runs even after defenders bottle him up.
As long as Booker continues to work on his speed, footwork and maybe add some muscle weight onto his frame for the start of the 2016 NFL season, the young prospect will be a future teams No. 1 running back. Come draft day, Booker should find himself drafted anywhere between Rounds 2-3.