Editor’s Note: As our coverage of the 2016 NFL Draft and its impact on fantasy football continues, we bring you our 2016 Rookie SWOT series. These articles will feature video highlights, combine reviews, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats, short-term expectations, long-term expectations and rookie draft advice for over 30 of the best dynasty league prospects from this year’s draft. We’ll follow that up with team-by-team draft reviews because, you know, that’s kind of what we live for.
Make sure you’re ready for your dynasty league rookie draft by staying up on all these articles, checking out our rookie draft guide, rookie rankings, rookie draft cheat sheet and mock draft rooms. There are simply no better resources out there for dynasty fantasy football enthusiasts.
Weight: 219 lbs.
Hands: 8 5/8”
Arm Length: 31 5/8”
Bench Press (reps at 225 lbs): 22
Devontae Booker did not fully participate in any drills outside of the bench press at the combine, nor participated in a full workout at his pro day due to a knee injury he suffered towards the end of his last college season. Therefore, many official stats are hard to come by for Booker.
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– very good receiver out of the backfield
– decisive when hitting holes
– good short area agility and footwork
– shows ability to maximize gains in short-yardage distances
– is able to make defenders miss with elusiveness
– displays good vision
– can change direction without losing much speed
– shows a willingness in pass protection
– lacks top end speed
– borderline size to be an every-down back at the NFL level
– has shown fumbling issues in the past
– not a home run threat
Overall Skill Set
Devontae Booker is a well rounded running who, while lacking high end speed, shows a combination of agility and short area quickness with a high motor and determination to grind out yardage. While not a ‘power back’ by any means, his grit and willingness on the field helps him in breaking tackles — though he is more elusive than he is powerful. He has good footwork for a running back prospect with the ability to find open creases and hit them with decisiveness. While he showed in college the ability to be a workhorse back, the are question marks as to whether he will be viewed as such at the NFL level. One of his greatest strengths, however, is his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield.
While Denver may not be considered the best landing spot, there are certainly worse places for Booker to land. The Broncos have a history of being running back friendly, as well as Gary Kubiak’s offense. He may find opportunities hard to come by initially due to CJ Anderson being seen as the starting running back in Denver, the competition behind Anderson can be overtaken with solid play by Booker. If he can manage to eventually take hold of the the second running back position on the depth chart, that should allow him to see some third down usage with the chance for even more work. While it isn’t my favorite landing spot, I like Booker in Denver.
The biggest short term threat to Devontae Booker is his knee injury suffered. If he suffers any setbacks or is held back because of this injury, he could quickly find himself falling behind the 8-ball which will delay any chances of him getting work on the field. As far as long term threats, he needs to make sure past fumbling issues stay in the past. Nothing kills a running back’s outlook by his coaching staff than a back who puts the ball on the ground and doesn’t protect the pigskin.
Short Term Expectations
Short term expectations should be held low, but with a little bit of optimism. CJ Anderson clearly sits atop the running back depth chart, and it’ll be difficult for Booker to change that. However, behind CJ is Ronnie Hillman, a back who is often a punching back amongst the dynasty community as being terrible. However, the Denver brass seem to like Hillman more than the dynasty pundits do; as they have shown him opportunity on the football field and also brought him back in the offseason. Personally, I think Booker is a much better running back than Hillman, and overtaking him is an achievable goal for Booker. If he can usurp Hillman as the Broncos’ second running back, that can lead way to third down duties — an area Booker can excel in due to his strength as a pass catcher.
Long Term Expectations
While Devontae Booker could possibly see work this year, I believe his long term outlook is higher than his short term. While CJ Anderson is going to have every opportunity to be the main guy in Denver, my take is that the Broncos like CJ, but don’t love him either. If they were higher on them, they wouldn’t have risked losing him this offseason by giving him a low tender as a restricted free agent. Ultimately they matched the Dolphins offer to him, which shows that didn’t want to lose him. Whether this was more of John Elway’s miscalculation or a bearing on how they truly view CJ Anderson, one can only speculate. Besides that, we have seen the Broncos running back be inconsistent in his production. Last offseason, CJ’s work ethic was called into question by Adam Gase after he left Denver, saying there were times he was out of shape and overweight. It would be presumptuous to correlate that into Anderson being a lazy and unmotivated player, but it is still interesting to note nonetheless. In my opinion, CJ Anderson is a good, quality running back; however, I don’t view him as an elite back who can’t be overtaken or replaced down the road. That is where Booker could have long term upside as that potential guy to replace him.
Projected Range in a Rookie Draft
Deontae Booker is currently 13th in DLF’s overall rookie rankings. His rookie ADP places him 15th overall amongst rookies. To me personally, the 2.02-2.06 range seems about right for Booker. Coming into the NFL draft, Booker was regarded as a top five rookie running back prospect. I don’t believe his landing spot hurt him as much as other running backs simply gained value by going to better perceived landing spots. Post-NFL draft, I now see who I believe are less talented running backs such as Jordan Howard and Paul Perkins going before him in a lot of rookie drafts due to landing spots. This begs the old question of should you place more emphasis on talent or situation? The positive going for Booker is that even though his road to becoming a full-time back may seem daunting, he has the pass-catching prowess to give him a descent floor in PPR settings. Unlike a guy like Howard, who could become a completely irrelevant back if he doesn’t reach his potential, Booker can maintain some relevancy through his receiving ability even if he fails as a complete back. This is why I personally prefer targeting backs who are plus receivers with the upside to achieve more than two-down bruiser type backs. Booker fits the mold as one of those backs who I prefer targeting, and while he may not be a ‘bargain’ at his price, I think it’s one I wouldn’t shy away from either if you are a believer in his talent.
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If I remember correctly, his scouting report seems eerily similar to that of Ladanian Tomlinson and Rashard Mendenhall (who also had similar profiles). I drafted him so the latter would be awesome, but even the former is good. If not for injuries and what seemed like a lack of real passion to continue playing football (just an observation, no idea if it’s true) Mendenhall was still pretty effective when healthy.
I can see that — perhaps a combination of both players. Scouting college players isn’t my ‘forte’ so to speak compared to other DLF writers who’s main focus is scouting the college ranks. I would say Tomlinson all-in-all was a better overall athlete and had better speed than Booker, but I think really good vision and short area agility are two similar traits that are most comparable between those two. We are talking about one of the best running backs I have ever seen in Tomlinson (I am 30, so wasn’t around or old enough to watch some of the older greats), so I hesitate to compare the two; but I do see some similarities even if Booker isn’t on LT’s level. They are both really good pass catchers too. Overall I really like Booker as a prospect though, I just don’t think he’s an ‘elite’ running back prospect. The Broncos are my favorite team, however, so I would love it if he ended up proving otherwise! haha.
You never bring up the fact he’s a 24 year old rookie? Many on the site looks at age in rankings but never seem to factor it in when ranking rookies..