2016 NFL Draft: The Denver Broncos got an incredible value in Utah running back Devontae Booker in the fourth round of the draft…
Whether by way of injury of whatever circumstance, the Denver Broncos got an insane value in Utah running back Devontae Booker with a fourth round compensatory pick they obtained thanks to Orlando Franklin.
You rock, big-O.
It was shocking enough to see teams passing on running backs throughout the third round of the draft. Heck, it was shocking to see only Derrick Henry, C.J. Prosise, and Kenyan Drake picked on the second day. On day three of the draft, however, it was mystifying to me that the first back off the board was Tyler Ervin to the Texans at 119 overall. The Baltimore Ravens got an absolute steal in Kenneth Dixon at pick 134 overall, but the Denver Broncos may have come away with the steal of the draft at the RB position getting Devontae Booker at 136 overall.
I was texting one of my good friends during this part of the draft, as we painstakingly sat through 36 picks waiting for the Broncos to be on the clock. The fourth round is a great place to bargain shop for some of the best talent that didn’t get picked (for whatever reason) on day two of the draft. Guys fall sometimes just because teams have other needs prioritized on their boards, and others fall due to injury.
Perhaps the running back position fell victim to both circumstances, and we know that Booker has a meniscus injury he’s coming off of, but the value of this pick was absolutely insane.
John Elway said after the draft that Booker was one of their most highly rated players at the position:
“We thought it fit really well, actually. We were happy that Booker was there. We didn’t think he’d be there in the bottom of the fourth. To be able to get him, a guy that we had second on our board at that position—I think he dropped because of some issues with his knee. But [Head Athletic Trainer Steve Antonopulos] ‘Greek’ felt good about where that was and the situation where we were [at]. We felt very lucky about getting him there. He’s a guy that has got great ball skills. He runs very tough. [He’s] a very tough runner and really does a nice job after contact. He’s a guy that I think was one of the top-three as far as yards after contact. We’re real excited about him.”
Having watched Booker’s games at Utah, it’s clear to see what the Broncos would value highly in him. Maybe it’s the number, maybe it’s the old-school choice of facemask, but Booker sort of reminds me of Arian Foster in the way that he plays.
Foster doesn’t have elite speed, but he has great burst and acceleration along with the ability to break tackles and play the inside game as well as the perimeter game.
Booker has all of those skills, and oh by the way — he’s a heck of a receiver out of the backfield as well.
“He is very thick, but I think he’s got a chance to stay on the field for all the downs if that’s what you’re asking,” Head coach Gary Kubiak said of Booker. “Obviously he’s an excellent runner. I think he caught like 80 or 85 balls over a two-year period. [His] pass protection is very good. Remember, he was on one of our visits, too. We had him in here and got to spend some time with him. A very impressive young man.”
One of the reasons the Broncos brought him in for a pre-draft visit was to find out more information about his knee, which as was noted above, John Elway said the team feels good about. Booker said he’s close to being 100 percent.
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“I’m doing good right now; I’m about 90 percent. I’m just doing everything I need to do to get it back strong and it’s coming along great.”
“I believe that everything happens for a reason, and I wouldn’t really blame my injuries for me dropping. If they did then everything happens for a reason. I’m thankful for Denver picking me up in the draft and I’m going to come in and work.”
Even with Booker’s injuries, the Broncos could have picked him in the 2nd round and no one would have blinked. For them to have gotten both booker and Paxton Lynch for their offense means that at least for me, they got two guys with top 45-50 grades on the overall draft board. Booker is an excellent prospect.
And not only is he going to help the Broncos out as a running back, but he’s going to try and add to the special teams unit as well:
“I feel like I can play special teams. I played special teams in junior college and when I got up to Utah they put me on it for the first couple weeks and then they took me off of it. If they need me to play special teams, I’m all for it, whatever they need me to do I’ll do it.”
The Broncos got Booker at an incredible discount. They found a way to come away from this draft with a number of guys who should have been picked higher than they were. This pick, in particular, looks like their best value outside of Paxton Lynch, and should pay dividends early on.