This year’s defensive tackle class features very little depth. So, those later-round guys are vying for spots and potentially a chance at being selected earlier than they once thought. Stanford’s Thomas Booker is one of these players. Booker had a role in nearly every game he could’ve played in during his four years at Stanford. He’s been a mainstay on the Cardinal defensive line and an experienced player. But experience doesn’t always lead to success, and we must see if Booker’s experience will take him to the promised land in the NFL.
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Name: Thomas Booker
Jersey: No. 4
Position: Defensive Tackle
Weight: 301 lbs
Games Watched: Oregon (2021), USC (2021), Arizona State (2021)
Major Injury History: None
Block Shedding (7.5/15)
This is a really rough start for Booker. He has below-average block shedding ability and one that is cause for concern. The slender frame makes you think Booker may be able to have some bend, but he’s mostly stuck on guys. The good part is that Booker isn’t allowing lineman to get to the second level, thus creating space. He also can move the blocker side-to-side, still without breaking off of him, but it can create havoc for the assignments. For Booker to get reps at the next level, he’ll need more technique to shed blocks right off the bat.
Strength at the LOS (8.5/15)
Another rough tier for Booker. Unlike some of the other defensive tackles with a projection, Booker has seen himself end up on his back a lot. There isn’t a consistent push from Booker. You’d like to say he keeps the lineman at a standstill, but there are times when he does allow said lineman to push him farther down the field. Booker needs more functional strength on the field, or else he’ll end up in a world of hurt.
Pass Rush Ability (10/15)
Booker’s pass-rush was the most disappointing of the tape. At only 300 pounds and looking smaller on film, you’d think Booker would have some sort of success in the pass-rush game. However, he does not. Booker wracked up 7.5 sacks in his first two years at Stanford. For the next two years, he only had 2.5 sacks. There were no coaching changes Booker had to deal with, so this is nearly inexplicable. He’s got the tools, but the production over the last two years is very concerning.
Booker only gets an average grade on the consistency front. Obviously, the numbers are pretty rough in this department, but there’s more to consistency than just stats. The main positive about Booker’s consistency is the lower body. Booker does really well to use his strong lower body to gain whatever leverage he lacks in size. Other than lower body, though, Booker has struggled to make a constant impact on his team over time.
Push goes pretty hand in hand with a lot of what we’ve discussed so far. Like many of his other traits, Booker’s push is around the average mark. The functional strength and size are a clear disadvantage for Booker; thus, he’s not able to get into the backfield all too well. We mentioned earlier he’s done well enough to be a space-eater, but Booker rests on the lower tier of space-eating, so he’ll need to improve the push and strength to create an impact for an NFL team.
Length Usage (7.75/10)
For someone with not all too much length, Booker knows how to use it. He’s constantly attempting to make himself skinny between the interior lineman. This leads to the linebackers taking advantage and shooting the holes. Booker is also able to make himself get low and control the rep with that thick lower body.
This is why teams will be most excited about Booker. Throughout the entire pre-draft process, Booker has posted a 9.81 Raw Athletic Score during testing. This ranks him at 26 out of 1,325 defensive tackles to compete in athletic testing since 1987. The athleticism is incredible, and it looks the same on film. He’s great working horizontally, and you can see a nice amount of explosiveness from Booker when he’s on the field.
Football IQ (9/10)
In the intro, we discussed the experience Booker possesses, and this plays into his football IQ. The best part of Booker’s IQ is how quick he is to get off of the line post-snap. Booker is one of the first guys to react to the ball being snapped, which gives him a much-needed leg up on the lineman. Overall, Booker is an incredibly smart player who can develop into a leader because of this in the NFL.
Booker is the kind of depth defensive tackle that teams will like at the next level. While he does have a ton of work to do, the tools are there. Booker’s smarts give him an instant advantage over a lot of rookie tackles. Then, there’s that great athleticism that gives you hope for Booker in the league. Booker will need to put on weight right away when getting into the NFL but doesn’t need too much if teams want to play him as a 3-4 defensive end. From a projection standpoint, Booker should go around the fourth or fifth round. The testing could make him go higher, but at any rate, Booker is a nice value pick on day three for any team.
Rookie Projection: Backup Defensive Tackle
Third-Year Projection: Close to Cracking Rotation
Player Grade (69.25/100): Fifth-Round Pick
Player Comparison: Mike DeVito
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