Grading the Bears’ selection of EDGE Austin Booker in fifth round

The Chicago Bears made waves when they traded back into the fifth round to select Kansas edge rusher Austin Booker with the 144th overall pick in the 2024 NFL draft.

Chicago acquired their original fifth-round selection that they sent to the Buffalo Bills in exchange for offensive lineman Ryan Bates. The Bears traded a 2025 fourth-rounder to the Bills to select Booker, their first defensive player in this draft class.

Booker has a rather 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.

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

Booker has received NFL comps to Maxx Crosby, who’s an absolute game-wrecker. It certainly helps he’ll have the opportunity to learn from one of the best in Montez Sweat, and we could potentially have Sweat and Booker book-ending the edge in the future.

Overall, the Bears made a move for a guy that they believe can develop into a key piece on their defense. While Booker is inexperienced (he has just 505 snap counts, per PFF), his upside is incredibly high and he has the potential to develop into another fifth-round steal for general manager Ryan Poles.

Grade: B+

Story originally appeared on Bears Wire