The 2022 NFL draft is rapidly approaching, with one Clemson player being recognized as one of the top players available in the draft.
According to Touchdown Wire, former Clemson cornerback Andrew Booth Jr. is one of the twenty best players in the entire draft. The site is ranking Booth as a player a little higher than his consensus projection when it comes to where he is expected to be taken.
Via Touchdown Wire:
Height: 6’0″ (70th) Weight: 194 (60th)
40-Yard Dash: N/A
Bench Press: N/A
Vertical Jump: N/A
Broad Jump: N/A
3-Cone Drill: N/A
20-Yard Shuttle: N/A
Bio: Andrew Booth Jr. was another highly-regarded recruit in the 2019 class, graded as a five-star player out of Archer High School in Lawrenceville, Georgia. 247Sports ranked him as the second-best cornerback in the class, behind Derek Stingley Jr.
Booth had offers from a ton of schools, including LSU, but opted for Clemson. He played in 13 games for the Tigers as a true freshman, and made four starts during the 2020 campaign for the Tigers, notching a pair of interceptions. Head coach Dabo Swinney thought playing him as a true freshman, rather than redshirting him, was the best way to prepare him mentally.
This past season was his most productive in college, as Booth recorded 37 tackles and three interceptions, both career-high marks.
Stat to Know: Teams looking for a scheme-diverse corner are going to love what they saw from Booth, as he played a lot of zone coverage last season. Pro Football Focus charted him with 266 zone snaps, in contrast to the players already profiled.
Strengths: While we started with man coverage, or press coverage, with both Sauce Gardner and Derek Stingley Jr., with Booth the strengths begin with versatility. He has the movement skills, change-of-direction ability and footwork to handle man coverage in the NFL, but his time at Clemson saw him play a lot of zone or off coverage. That had Booth dropping and using his eyes to read and react to the play as it unfolded, and then driving downhill if necessary to make tackles.
Weaknesses: Booth’s experience in zone coverage, reading concepts and rallying downhill to the catch point, comes with a caveat.
If you are going to be playing off coverage or in zone, you need to be able to limit the damage. Five yard throws cannot become 15-yard gains because of a missed tackle. PFF charted him with a missed tackle percentage of 23.9% last season, ranking him 326th among college cornerbacks.
It is not a lack of effort issue, in fact it might be the opposite. At times it looks like Booth wants to end the player with the football, and just whiffs at the strike point. Breaking down and just making a sure tackle, rather than swinging for the home-run type of hit, might be the answer.
Booth also suffered a core muscle injury prior to his Pro Day, and did not work out at the Combine because of a hamstring injury. The core muscle injury is going to require surgery, and is worth monitoring.
Conclusion: I keep coming back to the idea of Booth as a Philadelphia Eagle. The scheme fit seems almost perfect, with what we saw from the Eagles defense a year ago. Booth will need to clean up the tackling to thrive in such a zone-based system, but if he does that, watch out.
Comparison: I know I roll out the Patriots comparisons far too often, but I see shades of J.C. Jackson in Booth’s game.
There is some high praise here from the site, comparing him to All-Pro cornerback J.C. Jackson who has been one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL these past couple of seasons.
They give Andrew Booth Jr. his due respect, and one team might get lucky if he finds a way to slide down draft boards. With this being a stacked cornerback class, we’ll have to wait and see where Booth lands.