NEPD Staff Writer: Mike Gerken
Two weeks of games are in the books already, here we all rushed to get the season and already I want it to slow down. Sadly, my beloved Cyclones fell to the hated Hawkeyes over the weekend, so that one hurt a little, although the boss, James, I’m sure was very happy. We are still in the infant stages of both the college and NFL seasons, so it is still a bit too early to know what players are going to become the big names in the draft and what NFL team’s needs are going to be. For now, then, I will continue to focus on players that have caught my attention one way or another, and this week I decided to focus on Utah’s DeVonte Booker.
Name: DeVonte Booker
School: Utah (SR.)
Weight: 211 Lbs.
Year to Date Stats:
|2015 Game Log||Rushing||Receiving|
|9/11||Utah State||W 24-14||31||120||3.9||22||1||2||13||6.5||10||0|
What I saw:
This was not my first exposure to Booker, I had caught a couple of his games last year and I watched some of his cut ups over the summer. I had a pretty good idea of what type of player he was going into the season, but I wanted to see if he had made any improvements to his game and how he would handle being the defenses focus on game day. In this game versus Utah State, Booker was asked to carry the offense after starting QB Travis Wilson got hurt. For the most part, he showed the same positives and negatives that had shown up on film last year.
Booker is a decisive runner, he hits the hole quickly and plays with good pad level and balance. He is willing to lower his shoulder and put a hit on a defender. Just like last year, he shows that he still has a nice jump cut and the ability to change direction quickly and make defenders miss. He also showed in this game his ability to run with good power and fight for extra yards and fall forward. I was surprised that he was not used in the passing game very much in this game considering they were working with the backup QB for a majority of the game.
One area of concern I had with Booker was his speed. Last year he just didn’t show that break away speed that is needed in the NFL and after watching this game, I think that will still be a concern for NFL teams. I just didn’t see anything in this game that showed that he has improved his long speed from last season.
Although it didn’t show up in this game, Booker has shown to be a reliable pass catcher out of the backfield, but his pass protection was a little suspect. He showed a willingness to at least get in the way of a defender in last year’s games but his technique and his effort needed work. This is another area that I didn’t see a lot of improvement in. He pass blocks by putting a shove into the defenders chest and that is about it. In the NFL that is not going to cut it.
Thoughts after watching this game:
Booker has a place in the NFL for sure. He runs the ball hard and has the build of an NFL running back. He was workhorse in this game and has been for the Utes for a couple years now. I don’t see the explosion for him to be an elite back but he can be a part of committee. I really want him to be a better pass protector because I think his best role would be as a 3rd down back who can get you those tough yards on third down running the ball or be a threat as a pass catcher. He is not a guy who can make yards with his athleticism, but he is a smart, patient runner who takes what is given and sometimes a little more.
Other random thoughts from this game:
Utah has a true freshman wide receiver that Patriots fans will love. He name is Britain Covey and he is 5’8″ 166 Lbs. He is super quick and can cut on a dime. He also showed good toughness and seemed to be a spark plug for the team even as a true freshman. He looks to be another one of those try hard guys who gives his all despite his physical limitations. He jumped off the tape for me.
This was the first exposure I had with Utah State’s Kyler Fackrell. The DE/OLB has good size at 6’5″ and 250 Lbs. In my limited viewing, I saw a guy that is a very smooth athlete who runs well. He is smooth in his backpedal and does a nice job covering the flat on pass plays. He clearly needs to get stronger at the point of attack as he was moved around pretty easily. In this game, he didn’t get a sack, but he showed good bend off the edge and a good first step. He looks like he relies on his speed rather than technique when rushing the passer and again, he needs to add strength. Again, this is just a limited sample size, but he looks like a more of a developmental type prospect who needs to add strength