2022 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Andrew Booth Jr.by Charlie Parent January 9, 2022 0 comments
There are four cornerbacks currently vying for the number one spot in the NFL Draft. Derek Stingley, Ahmad Gardner, Kaiir Elam, and Clemson’s Andrew Booth. While each player has a case to be the top cornerback picked in the draft, Booth could have the best one. Booth, a former five-star out of Georgia, is just 21 years old, one of the youngest players in this draft, with all the extra eligibility years secured. We’ll mention throughout this report one word with Booth: athleticism. Booth is an uber-athletic corner and one with tremendous upside. Let’s see if he fits these narratives.
Name: Andrew Booth Jr.
Jersey: No. 23
Weight: 200 lbs
Games Watched: Virginia (2020), Notre Dame (2020) Georgia (2021), Florida State (2021), Boston College (2021)
Major Injury History: None
Man Coverage (13.5/15)
After watching five games from Booth, it’s easy to see that quarterbacks avoid throwing at him. If that negative connotation sounds like a bad thing, it’s not at all. Booth has a natural talent to mirror routes, and it’s a joy to watch. Booth has the potential to become a lockdown-type cornerback. He doesn’t allow inside or outside leverage easily, like some others in this class. Short and intermediate receptions (along with deep ones, but we’ll talk about that later) are very hard for the receiver to get.
While all of this sounds great, there are some flaws. Strength verse bigger receivers have been a problem at times for Booth. An example of this came against Notre Dame’s Ben Skowronek. Skowronek shoved him aside, in a legal way, for a reception on an out route. He also got beat on a deep post once against Boston College, so you can see he’s not perfect. Overall, Booth has fantastic awareness in man coverage, and the upside here is incredible.
Zone Coverage (13.5/15)
Booth played a ton of zone coverage at Clemson, and it’s evident that he’s comfortable here. Anytime someone comes through Booth’s zone, he gets his hands on him to chip him before filtering that guy onto the next zone. We’ll talk about instincts shortly, but Booth is incredibly fast to react in zone coverage and flies right to the ball.
The weaknesses, like man coverage, are tiny but still there. When in deep routes, he can drop back a tad too far but nothing major. Another small note is that some errors in Cover 2 occurred against Georgia, where Booth incorrectly played his flat. Otherwise, we are looking at another super-strong area for Booth and a great start to this evaluation.
There’s no other way to describe how Booth gets to the ball than using the word flies. Booth’s quick to process the play and gets to the ball like no other. He and Elam have phenomenal instincts, but Booth may top the class. Booth is quick to get to the ball in swing passes and all.
Ball Skills (9.5/10)
There have been plenty of interceptions in college football the last two years, but Booth’s best may top them all. This one came in 2020 against Virginia, and it was an Odell Beckham-Esque one-handed grab in the front corner of the end zone. This play is a great way to describe Booth’s ball skills: superb. He possesses excellent positioning on the receiver, a great vertical ability, and an all-around knack for the ball.
Press/ Physicality (8/10)
The biggest concern with Booth is if he can handle the press in the NFL. Clemson didn’t give him much opportunity to show off his ability here, and there’s a possibility that he doesn’t have the strength to compete with pro receivers. On the other hand, everything else regarding Booth’s physicality is great. Booth is handsy but not too much. He can outmuscle receivers at the point of the catch. It’s all super promising here, and the technique should get better as he goes.
Long Speed (9/10)
While Roger McCreary has essentially asserted his long speed as the best in class, Booth’s is right up there. Booth’s long speed can be defined as an elite trait, but again there are flaws. He’s allowed steps a good chunk of times but has the athleticism to make a play as well. Go-routes are routinely covered, but we see the occasional loss-of-rep on a double move or deep post. These mishaps are in no way a reason to worry, but they are there; something NFL scouts will keep an eye on.
Tackling/ Run Support (8.5/10)
Any team at the next level would love to see Booth’s effort in his tackling. In one of the first plays of the Georgia game, Booth deconstructed a block on a swing concept and made a great tackle on the ball carrier. The Clemson defense sent him on blitzes several times, and he is always involved. Now, he doesn’t have the best technique, and the whiffs are there, but Booth’s tackling ability is promising.
Athleticism is what makes Booth so good. The movement is effortless, and there’s no telling what he can’t do in terms of athleticism. We mentioned earlier strength may be a problem, but everything else is so good that it makes up for it. You could go on and on about Booth’s athleticism, but at the end of the day, he’s going to put up absurd numbers at the combine and be a top-three pure athlete in this class.
Change of Direction (5/5)
You could’ve already guessed what the ranking on this one would be. Booth has phenomenal hips. They probably are not better than Elam’s, but the margin is thin. The hips sink when mirroring a route, and he can cover the whole field. Booth can turn around at a moment’s notice or go horizontally with as much ease.
The length for Booth is good, and again, not a trait that will hurt him but not his best attribute. Booth knows how to use his length very well, but it’s not the best in the class. However, he still disrupts passing lanes in zone coverage, makes tackles while engaged with a blocker, and wraps up ball carriers with ease.
Booth has no weaknesses. Sure, there are hiccups here and there, but we are looking at a possible star in the making. The narrative around this year’s cornerback class is that Stingley should be the first guy off the board, potentially in the top-five, but we need to shift that view. Booth has asserted himself as the best cornerback in this class, and anything over a top 10 pick would be a crime.
Rookie Projection: DROY Candidate
Third-Year Projection: Potential Top-Seven Cornerback
Final Grade (90.75/100): Potential Top-10 Pick
Pro Comparison: Jaire Alexander
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