Austin Booker dubbed Bears’ best sleeper pick in 2024 NFL draft

The Chicago Bears welcomed five new rookies during the 2024 NFL draft, including most notably an elite quarterback-wide receiver duo in Caleb Williams and Rome Odunze.

But they also had some underrated selections who could emerge as playmakers down the line.

Touchdown Wire’s Doug Farrar singled out the best sleeper pick for every team, and he landed on Kansas edge rusher Austin Booker, who Chicago traded back into the NFL draft to select in the fifth round.

Bears fans who were over the moon with the picks of Caleb Williams and Rome Odunze in the first round might have cooled a bit when their team selected an offensive tackle and a punter with their remaining two picks. What about the need at edge-rusher? Well, general manager Ryan Poles apparently had similar concerns, so the Bears traded back into the fifth round and took Kansas edge defense Austin Booker with the 144th overall pick.

Last season for the Jayhawks, Booker had nine sacks and 38 total pressures, and though he’s a smaller man for the position (6′ 4½’, 240), his speed off the edge speaks volumes, and it will be accentuated over time with a more complete palette of pass-rush moves.

Booker has a limited sample size having played just one full season (with one start) at Kansas. But he has high upside with explosiveness, athleticism, length and pass rush talent that makes him a really appealing developmental prospect in Matt Eberflus’ defense.

It certainly helps that Booker will have the opportunity to learn from one of the best in Montez Sweat and new Bears defensive coordinator Eric Washington, who should help get the most out of Booker.

NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah said during the NFL draft broadcast that Booker could have been a late first-round pick next year, if he’d gone back to school. So it certainly feels like Chicago landed a potential steal in Booker in the fifth round.

Story originally appeared on Bears Wire