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Breaking Down CB Andrew Booth Jr.

Syndication: The Greenville News Ken Ruinard / staff / USA TODAY NETWORK

With the 42nd pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, the Vikings selected CB Andrew Booth Jr. from Clemson. Kwesi Adofo-Mensah made two trades to acquire the 42nd pick, first trading down with the Packers to gain picks #53 and #59, and then trading #53, #77, and #192 to the Colts for pick #42 and #122.

Booth was the #22 prospect on the consensus big board, and third-ranked corner behind Ahmad Sauce Gardner and Derek Stingley Jr..

Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson

Before going through all the normal things in breaking down Andrew Booth, it’s worthwhile to first break-down Booth’s injury history- the reason why he fell into the second round. Booth has an injury history going back to high school, some minor, some a bit more concerning. He most recently suffered what was reported as a Grade 2 quadriceps strain while training for the Combine, causing him to miss it, and in March had double hernia surgery, according to Dane Brugler, which caused him to miss both his pro day. He is expected to be available for training camp, if not sooner, although a core muscle surgery caused Christian Darrisaw to miss training camp after initially being expected to fully participate last year. All this seems concerning, as it appears that Booth is injury prone and therefore may not be able to make it through the wear and tear of an NFL season or have a shortened career.

And while any player’s injury history is concerning, here is a good breakdown of Booth’s injury history and prognosis. The bottom line here is that once Booth recovers from his most recent surgery, there is no added risk for him to be sidelined due to any of his previous injuries. All of them are either at least a couple years in the past and no longer of concern, are one-off minor injuries (like a stinger), or are of a nature that he is not of added risk for reoccurrence or complication, nor is his performance on the field likely to be negatively impacted. There is also the chance that having addressed his outstanding injuries, his play may even improve. Apparently he has been dealing with the core muscle issue for at least the last year or so. Having said that, the Vikings’ medical and coaching staff will undoubtedly want to review Booth’s training regimen and play on the field to help him reduce the risk of injuries in the future.

TRAITS

There is not much to report for Booth in terms of athletic testing, as he missed both the Combine and his pro day. His game film suggests a cornerback that is not lacking in any aspect of athleticism needed for the position and may in fact be near prototypical in desired traits.

COLLEGE GRADES AND STATS

College Football Reference
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SCOUTING REPORTS

A press/zone combo corner with good size and length, Booth plays with an urgent, competitive nature. He has the strength, balance and foot agility to press and slow the release. He has limited starting experience, though. He will need more development to prevent route specialists from manipulating his feet and hips. Booth has the ball-tracking and play strength to find and maintain top-dog positioning through catch tries. He’s more effective in off coverage underneath than tight man. He needs to play more football, but his ball-hawking instincts, burst to close and toughness in run support will be very appealing for zone teams looking for an upgrade at cornerback. - Lance Zierlein, nfl.com

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Booth possesses the requisite size to play the cornerback position in the NFL. At 6’0″, he won’t be the tallest in the 2022 NFL Draft class, but by no means will he be the smallest. Furthermore, Booth has excellent length, which is far more critical at the NFL level. He has already demonstrated that he can put that length to good use with some phenomenal interceptions and pass breakups.

That leads nicely to the next element of his scouting profile. Booth owns excellent ball skills and tracking with strong hands. Because of this, the Clemson CB has shown he can go up and get the ball at its highest point. His ability to impact the ball at the highest point, with ludicrous vertical explosion, is extremely impressive. Additionally, this gives him an advantage in contested-catch situations.

Contrary to some rumors circulating, I believe you see Booth fight with physicality at the catch point. The Clemson cornerback is not afraid to mix it up with bigger receivers, helped by his belief that he’s the best player out there. He plays the game with archetypal cornerback swagger and has the goods to back it up.

Booth’s physicality also shows up with his willingness to impact the ground game. An aggressive playmaker in run support, he attacks his man with physicality. While there are some technical elements to smooth out as a tackler, there’s no questioning his willingness or physicality. He can use his length and physicality to shed blocks with relative ease.

An explosive athlete with improved football intelligence and versatility

Despite impressing in all of the above areas, Booth’s best attribute as an NFL Draft prospect will be his athleticism. In my notes taken during his film study, the word athletic is in block capitals, underlined, and with a box drawn around to set it aside from everything else. The Clemson cornerback is fast, fluid, and full of energy.

Booth flies around the field, flashing impressive long speed to match receivers downfield. He also owns the exceptional short-area speed to click and close with ease. The cornerback has quick feet, loose hips, and as a result, a tremendous change-of-direction ability.

Booth’s development in the mental approach to the game has been noticeable this season. In addition to his ball-tracking ability, he reads the game in front of him well. With his ability to understand short and intermediate passing concepts, he has the athletic ability to act upon his reads.

As a result, he presents as a versatile prospect who can slide into man or zone schemes. With versatility, athleticism, and a developing football intelligence, Booth has all the attributes you look for in an NFL Draft CB prospect. Like Clemson cornerbacks of past draft classes, he has the potential to be an impactful playmaker as a starting outside CB.

Areas for improvement

Although Booth has a scouting report that I believe makes him the top cornerback in the 2022 NFL Draft class, there is some room for improvement. Meanwhile, there are some injury concerns that could be impacting his eventual draft selection.

The Clemson CB battled injury, and missed a small amount of time, during his final season with the Tigers. He has essentially missed the entire pre-draft process as a result of multiple injuries. One of those required surgery. For a prospect whose stock is predicated on incredible athletic ability, that could cause an issue for NFL teams. From what we’re hearing, it already might have caused a slide down draft boards.

Booth’s physical and often overzealous approach to the game can have undesirable consequences. During his freshman season, he was ejected for throwing a punch at a Louisville player. Additionally, there are several examples on tape of him mistiming tackles or biting on route fakes due to his eagerness to make a play.

While mistiming can be an issue on tackling, there are some technical issues that can use some refinement. He can be prone to ankle tackles and shoestring attempts, which have gone largely unpunished at the college level. At the NFL level, they could be more costly. Wrapping up with consistency will vastly improve his game in this regard.

Booth’s Player Profile

A three-year starter at Archer High School in Georgia, Booth impressed early and often. As a junior, he earned first-team All-County, All-Region, and All-State honors, justifying his exceptional recruiting profile. Booth was a consensus five-star recruit, viewed as the second-best cornerback in the 2019 class and a top-25 player in the nation.

As you’d expect, college football programs across the nation battled to woo Booth. The star cornerback attracted the attention of Alabama, Ohio State, Notre Dame, and his home state Georgia Bulldogs. Yet, before the start of his senior season, Booth committed to Clemson.

His commitment to the Tigers never wavered through a senior campaign where he was named the County Defensive Back of the Year. Demonstrating ability beyond the defensive backfield, Booth became the Region Specialist of the Year. The award was further evidence of his insane athletic ability. In addition to the 3 punt return touchdowns that helped secure the specialist award, he logged 22 receptions with 557 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns in his high school career.

Booth finished his time at Archer with 162 tackles, 13 interceptions, 44 pass breakups, 4 forced fumbles, and was named an Under Armour All-American.

Booth’s career at Clemson

Booth faced a battle for snaps in a stacked defensive backfield despite his incredible athletic profile and status as a top high school recruit. Although he made his debut against Georgia Tech and played in all 13 games, he played just 65 defensive snaps behind future first-rounder A.J. Terrell and a host of talent in the secondary.

Still, his special-teams ability ensured he contributed to the team beyond his 6 tackles and 1 pass breakup. Booth may have only made four starts for the Tigers in his sophomore season, but he saw an uptick in snaps to 335 as he began to assert his influence on the ACC. Through a season where he earned second-team All-ACC, he registered 30 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, 4 pass breakups, 1 sack, and 2 interceptions.

Simple statistics don’t tell the whole story of Booth’s sensational sophomore year. He earned ACC Defensive Back of the Week honors after a mind-blowing one-handed interception against Virginia. The Clemson cornerback’s athleticism had never been in question. However, with further acrobatic performances against Miami and Pittsburgh, he cemented his status as one of the most exciting cornerbacks in the country.

Booth’s NFL Draft ascension

Booth began his NFL Draft ascension in the season opener against Georgia. The Clemson cornerback impressed in a defensive slugfest with the eventual national champions. With 5 tackles (1 for loss) and a pass breakup, the ascending cornerback earned team defensive player of the week honors.

Throughout the 2021 campaign, Booth continued to showcase the athletic, playmaking ball skills that have come to define his scouting report. He logged interceptions against Wake Forest and South Carolina, finishing the year with 3 interceptions and 5 pass breakups in 11 starts. Alongside teammate Mario Goodrich, the Clemson CB earned first-team All-ACC honors.

Despite battling injury, Booth proved himself to be one of the top cornerback prospects in the 2022 NFL Draft. While he lands as the CB2 and 11th overall player on the Pro Football Network Top 300 Big Board, there are rumblings he might not live up to that standing due to his inability to test during the process. If he does fall, an NFL team will get a steal with a player that ranks as the CB1 on my personal Top 300 Big Board. - Oliver Hodgkinson, Pro Football Network

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A five-star recruit out of high school, Booth was the No. 2 cornerback in the 2019 recruiting class (behind only Derek Stingley) and the No. 3 recruit in the state of Georgia.

STRENGTHS: Fluid athlete with quick feet, long gait and controlled hip movements … shows a natural feel for pattern matching in press or off-man … anticipates route breaks and combinations to stay in the wide receiver’s shadow … quick to recover because of his body control and was penalized only once on defense the last three years (pass interference vs. Notre Dame in 2020) … excellent tracking and disrupt skills when the ball is in the air … has the length to take away passing lanes … looks like a former wide receiver at the catch point, including multiple one-handed interceptions on his tape … quick to read, drive and close to blow things up at the line of scrimmage … calms his feet and keeps a wide base to make open-field tackles … doesn’t allow receivers to push him around, quickly shedding blocks with his physical hands … energetic, expressive personality on the field and off – wears his competitive emotions on his sleeve … led the team in interceptions in 2021.

WEAKNESSES: Will bite hard on pumps and route fakes, creating wasted steps and slowing his transitions … will surrender throws in front of him and not as comfortable in zone … needs to clean up his jam techniques and timing … lined up predominantly outside and doesn’t have experience in the slot … his overaggressive nature in the run game can backfire, leading to missed tackles … ejected for throwing a punch against Louisville (October 2019) as a freshman (head coach Dabo Swinney made him ride the equipment bus back to campus instead of flying with the team) … missed one game as a junior because of a hamstring injury (October 2021) and another because of a stinger (November 2021); required surgery after his freshman year to repair a tear in his patella tendon in his right knee (January 2020); also battled some knee tendinitis in high school; missed most of the pre-draft process because of a Grade 2 quad strain and double hernia surgery (April 2022).

SUMMARY: A two-year starter at Clemson, Booth was an outside cornerback in former defensive coordinator Brent Venables’ man and zone schemes, including bail and side-saddle techniques. A former five-star recruit, he blossomed over the last three years for the Tigers and had a strong junior season, including impressive tapes against the two SEC teams on the 2021 schedule (Georgia and South Carolina). Booth stays in phase because of his lower-body quickness and hip-flip skills to mirror routes, staying coordinated in his transitions and in position to make plays on the ball. There is nothing finesse about his play style and he takes his contain responsibilities seriously in the run game, but his downhill aggressiveness makes his tackling an adventure. Overall, Booth’s tape has some volatility and he must mature his feel for spacing, but he has fluid athleticism, finds the football and disrupts the catch point, three important ingredients to playing the position at a high level. He has NFL starting traits (if he stays healthy) and projects best in a man-heavy scheme. - Dane Brugler, The Athletic

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Andrew Booth Jr. came to Clemson with a 5-star recruiting status and as an academic standout. His contributions to the program met expectations. He offers an exciting blend of size, athleticism, instincts, physicality, ball skills, and competitive toughness that give him the makeup of an impact starter at the next level. He is a fiery competitor on the field that plays with an alpha mentality. When it comes to areas of growth, Booth Jr. can clean up some missed tackles and improve in zone coverage. While he’s never passive as a tackler, there are instances where he leaves his feet with too much distance between himself and the ball-carrier or isn’t under enough control to finish. In zone coverage, he can do a better job of squeezing routes and coming off his landmarks when necessary. In year one, Booth Jr. has the ability to compete for a starting role and has the makings of a high-level impact starter by year two or three. He is a versatile player that can execute in any coverage technique and has no matchup restrictions. He could even warrant some situational opportunities to play in the slot given his quickness and willingness to trigger and fit the run closer to the box.

Man Coverage Skills: Booth Jr. is a sticky man coverage corner with loose hips, quick feet, and excellent route-anticipation skills. He does well to read route stems and stay connected as routes elongate. Booth Jr. has every necessary physical trait to be a shutdown man coverage corner in the NFL.

Zone Coverage Skills: Booth Jr. generally does well to stay leveraged in zone coverage, cue the backfield, and work into throwing lanes. With that said, he does have room to grow in terms of understanding when to come off landmarks and adjust on the fly. In 2021, the Clemson defense too often covered grass in zone and a simple understanding of where the eligible receivers are, the routes those receivers run, and eliminating threats from there would have improved the coverage spacing and Booth Jr. occasionally fell victim to that. And while Booth Jr. was victimized a few times due to coverage busts where he anticipated passing off a receiver to a different zone defender, he can do a better job of squeezing routes.

Ball Skills: Booth Jr. has made his share of highlight reel plays on the football and his time spent in college as a receiver and return man shows up. He is aggressive to break on the football and he has no issues finding or tracking the football in the air. Booth Jr. rounds out his skill set by having a knack to make game-changing plays on the football. He has that alpha mentality when the ball is in the air and is ultra-competitive at the catch point when challenged.

Tackling: Booth Jr. is an aggressive and enthusiastic tackler with dynamic click and close ability. He makes impact tackles outside his frame and there is never anything passive when it comes to playing the run or making a tackle. With that said, he isn’t immune to a missed tackle, which are almost always a result of coming in too hot or leaving his feet with too much distance between himself and the ball-carrier, leading to whiffs.

Versatility: Booth Jr. has been tasked with executing a variety of coverage techniques including man, zone, soft press, and tight press man coverage. His skill set presents zero limitations or matchup restrictions. Booth Jr. has experience on the kick-off team, punt return, and punt coverage units.

Competitive Toughness: Booth Jr. is an elite competitor. He plays an aggressive and physical brand of football that leads to him always being around the football. He battles on every rep and his motor always runs hot. You can just tell by watching him that he doesn’t want to concede an inch on the field. For as gifted of a player that Booth Jr. is, my favorite component of his game is his competitive spirit.

Functional Athleticism: Booth Jr. features an explosive athletic profile and he controls his speed well. He has the short-area quickness needed to mirror and match routes and the long speed to carry receivers down the field. His movement skills are dynamic and without limitation.

Football IQ: Booth Jr.’s football intelligence shows up when defending the run, mirroring routes in man coverage, and in his overall spatial awareness. With that said, there is room to grow in terms of processing in zone coverage and adjusting. Booth Jr. is rarely caught panicking or out of position and he has nearly a clean resume when it comes to penalties.

Run Defending: Booth Jr. is a terrific run defender that is enthusiastic about getting involved. He understands run fits and will do the dirty work in terms of aggressively and physically taking on blocks to spill runs back inside and maintain outside leverage. If there is a blunder defending the run for Booth Jr., it’s because he’s too aggressive trying to make a tackle. I love his makeup as a run defender and it could lead to him playing both outside and in the slot at the next level.

Length: Booth Jr. has good length and he knows how to make it count. He routinely finishes tackles outside his frame by extending his tackle radius due to his arm length. He also maximizes his length when making plays on the ball with precise timing and the ability to fully extend while maintaining body control.

Prospect Comparison: Jaire Alexander

- Joe Marino, The Draft Network

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Positives: Smallish, instinctive cornerback with outstanding ball skills. Displays great patience, discipline, and awareness of what’s happening on the field. Smooth and fluid pedaling in reverse, quick flipping his hips in transition, and shows terrific playing speed with the ability to recover.

Stays with receivers all over the field, remains on the opponent’s hip out of breaks, and shows an explosive burst to the ball. Battles opponents, does not back down from a challenge, and plays big football. Fires upfield and gives effort defending the run. Instinctive, effectively diagnoses plays, and is rarely challenged by opponents.

Negatives: Gets outmatched by taller wideouts. Gets a little tall in his backpedal on occasion.

Analysis: Booth was a good nickel back at Clemson in 2020 and really elevated his game last season. He’s not the big-bodied cornerback a lot of teams want in this day and age of the NFL. Rather he’s an instinctive and athletic prospect with next-level ball skills. - Tony Pauline, Pro Football Network

FIT WITH THE VIKINGS

Booth is clearly a starting caliber cornerback, even as a rookie, and he’ll take the starting role from Patrick Peterson at some point. Booth will likely see the field in rotation at outside corner this season, and could also be the starting slot corner. Booth has the traits to play in the slot, and played there in the 2020 season at Clemson. But Booth will ultimately play outside for the Vikings as a starter and could matchup with receivers inside or outside if necessary. He has the makings of a shut-down corner in time.

COLLEGE FILM

Complete Clemson Highlights

Booth vs. Georgia 2021

This game is notable because national champion Georgia clearly viewed Booth as a shut-down corner, and the QB didn’t even look his way 90% of passing plays. Even 80%+ of runs were either up the middle or away from Booth.

Poll

What level will Andrew Booth reach in the NFL?

This poll is closed

  • 28%
    All-Pro/Pro-Bowl
    (54 votes)
  • 33%
    Top 20% of cornerbacks
    (62 votes)
  • 24%
    Above average starting cornerback
    (45 votes)
  • 11%
    Average starting cornerback
    (21 votes)
  • 2%
    Below average cornerback
    (4 votes)
  • 0%
    Won’t be a starter
    (1 vote)
187 votes total Vote Now