From now until the 2022 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to scout and create profiles for as many prospects as possible, examining their strengths, weaknesses, and what they can bring to an NFL franchise. These players could be potential top 10 picks, all the way down to Day 3 selections and priority undrafted free agents. Today, I’ll be profiling Clemson cornerback Andrew Booth.
#23 Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson (Jr.) — 6’0” 194 lbs.
|Player||Ht/Wt||Hand Size||Arm Length||Wingspan|
|Andrew Booth Jr.||6000/194||9 3/8||31 1/2||76 7/8|
|40-Yard Dash||10-Yard Dash||Short Shuttle||3-Cone|
|Broad Jump||Vertical||Bench Press|
— Does a good job of working to stay square, rerouting receivers downfield in off coverage
— Extremely active in zone coverage, covers ground and breaks downhill well as a deep ⅓ defender in Cover 3
— Elite ball skills and ability to compete at the catch point
— Noticeably energetic and supportive of teammates on film
— Elite hip fluidity and change of direction ability
— Has some elite press man coverage reps when able to stay square
— High level communicator in zone coverage
— Fearless and physical tackler when able to square up his target/approach under control
— Phenomenal at high pointing the football on downfield targets
— Does a good job of mid pointing levels concepts as a flat defender in Cover 2
— Sheds stalk blocks as well as any corner in the draft, extremely physical and uses his length well to extend and disengage
— Great at hand fighting/battling to squeeze bigger/stronger receivers downfield
— Great recovery speed and patience when closing from a trailing position
— Elite athlete, speed and quickness jump off the tape
— Eye discipline could stand to improve in off coverage, takes him out of position at times
— Has a tendency to come downhill out of control, leading to some missed tackles
— Has a tendency to open immediately in press coverage, could stand to be more patient and work to stay square until the receiver declares
— Needs to learn to use his hands in press coverages, almost always allows free releases at the line of scrimmage, relying on his athleticism
— 75 tackles 5.5 TFLs 1 sack 1 FR 5 INTs 15 PDs 1 TD
— 39 tackles 3 TFLs 3 INTs 8 PDs
— 2021 First Team All-ACC
— 2020 Second Team All-ACC
— 5 Star Recruit out of high school, ranked #8 in his class by Rivals
— Played 981 defensive snaps in 35 games played, with 15 starts
— Did not participate in any combine events due to quad injury
Although the draft’s two top cornerback prospects, Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner and Derek Stingley Jr are extremely unlikely to be on the board at the 20th pick, the 2022 class fields one of the most talented and deepest cornerback classes in recent memory. Enter Clemson’s Andrew Booth, a former five star recruit who cemented himself as a top draft prospect with a First Team All-ACC nomination this past season, collecting 39 tackles, three tackles for losses, three picks, and five pass breakups in his first season as a full time starter.
While his technique could stand to use refinement in certain areas, specifically in his press game, Booth Jr’s athleticism jumps off the tape, particularly in his ability to trigger quickly downhill and in his highpoint ability, which is arguably the best in this year’s class. Likewise, despite his reckless approach which can lead to some missed tackles, Booth Jr is one of the most physical cornerbacks in the draft, able to shed stalk blocks with ease and destroy opponents screen games.
As I mentioned, few cornerbacks in this year’s draft, or even those currently in the league, possess the athleticism and ball skills to high point footballs at the level of Booth Jr, making him extremely difficult to target downfield. On the rep below, from his 2020 sophomore campaign against Miami, Booth Jr is working as a deep 1/3 defender to the boundary in a Cover 3 Cloud scheme. After forcing the receiver wide by staying square, Booth Jr is able to open and squeeze the receiver into the sideline, smoothly transitioning into his crossover run to stay on top. After stumbling off balance, Booth Jr shows some absurd body control, contorting his body into the receiver and getting his right hand on the football for one of the most impressive high point pass breakups you’ll ever see.
Booth Jr might be the best corner in the draft in terms of ability to use the press bail technique. Below, from a road matchup against Virginia in his sophomore season, Booth Jr is aligned in man coverage with safety help to the inside, allowing him to utilize the press bail technique to stay on top of the receiver and protect against the red zone fade.
At the snap, Booth Jr quickly transitions into a crossover run, forcing the receiver to take a wide path on the fade route. Downfield, Booth Jr works to squeeze the receiver into the sideline, boxing out the receiver with his left arm and high pointing the football with his free arm, securing an impressive one handed interception in the process. Once again, his ball skills, particularly downfield, might stand out as the best of any cornerback in this 2022 draft class.
While Booth Jr has plenty of work ahead to improve in press man coverage, particularly in his tendency to open prematurely and allow free releases, when he is able to stay square, he put some dominant reps on film in his 2021 junior season. Below from his standout season opener against Georgia this past season, Booth Jr is aligned in press man coverage in the boundary.
At the snap, Booth Jr utilizes a mirror press to patiently give ground, forcing the receiver to release wide before closing to the upfield shoulder, getting chest to chest, squeezing the receiver into the sideline, and finishing through the hands with violence to break up the back shoulder attempt. Reps like this one display how dominant Booth Jr could potentially become with some refinement of his technique with an NFL coaching staff.
Earlier in the same game, Booth Jr shows off his physicality on an early third and long attempt from the Bulldogs. Working as the flat defender in a Cover 2 zone assignment, Booth Jr allings at the sticks before triggering downhill upon noticing a motion swing screen to the running back. Booth Jr takes an inside path to attack downhill, arriving with physicality before disengaging to shed the stalk block and laying out to trip up the running back well short of the sticks. Booth Jr consistently triggers downhill without hesitation and is one of the best screen game and run defending corners in this year’s class.
The usage of crack blocks from boundary receivers is a staple of most perimeter run games, as if blocked correctly, it ensures the running back will have a one on one open field matchup with the boundary cornerback, a traditionally advantageous matchup for the offense. Thus, crack and replace defense, in which the cornerback alerts the safety of the crack and quickly steps up to replace their responsibilities as an alley defender is an extremely important aspect of defending perimeter rushing attacks.
Throughout his career, Booth Jr has been phenomenal in crack and replace situations, quickly triggering downhill and finishing with violence at the point of contact. Below against Boston College, Booth, aligned in off coverage against the cut split receiver in the boundary, quickly alerts the crack and replaces the safety’s alley fill on the stretch run. Triggering without hesitation, Booth Jr closes downhill rapidly, tracking the inside hip to take away any cutback lane, and shooting low to stick the running back well behind the line of scrimmage for a big loss.
As Booth Jr chose to opt out of all combine events, we are unable to quantify his speed and explosiveness with numbers on his 40 time, 10 yard split, short shuttle, and vertical. That being said, while not quite as much of a standout trait as his explosiveness and short area agility, Booth Jr’s long speed and effort stand out on tape on multiple occasions.
Below, aligned as the field side corner against a heavy set, Booth Jr is in a man coverage assignment, matching the receivers release before identifying the stalk block and turning inside to track the running back. As the back jump cuts inside and accelerates to the second level untouched, Booth Jr accelerates, tracking the near hip and diving low to cut the back down from behind shy of the 10 yard line, saving a touchdown in the process.
In off man coverage, Booth Jr’s ability to plant and drive downhill makes him particularly effective at defending shallow to intermediate routes on possession downs, one of the most important jobs of cornerbacks at the NFL level. Aligned in man coverage in the boundary below against Boston College, on a final drive fourth down attempt with Clemson preserving a six point lead, Booth backs off pre snap to align at the sticks.
After giving ground in a side shuffle, Booth Jr plants and breaks downhill with no wasted movement, closing and arriving at the catch point to tackle the receiver short of the sticks and seal a victory for Clemson. When able to square up his targets, Booth Jr is undeniably one of the best open field tacklers at the cornerback position in his class.
Outside of some need for continued refinement of his technique in press coverage, it is tough to find any major holes in Booth Jr’s game. That being said, the primary issue that appeared from time to time centered around his out of control approach when tackling in open space, which can occasionally leave him susceptible to missing tackles when ball carriers change direction.
Below, from a matchup against Wake Forest this past season, Booth Jr is aligned as the field cornerback, serving as a deep 1/3 defender in a Cover 3 scheme. After gaining depth in his side shuffle, Booth Jr triggers rapidly, breaking downhill to contest a curl route in the hole of the zone.
Although he arrives at the catch point as the receiver is turning upfield, Booth Jr is out of control, fails to break down, and misses the tackle, allowing for extra yards after the catch and a first down. While he will need to approach ball carriers slightly more under control at the NFL level, he possesses the physical demeanor and willingness as a tackler to succeed with slight technical refinements and improved consistency.
Overall, I exited my evaluation of Andrew Booth Jr. with him firmly as a mid to late first round talent, possessing some of the best agility, change of direction ability, high point ability, and physicality in this year’s draft class. Depending on how the offseason goes, Booth Jr. could wind up being a top target to replace Joe Haden with the 20th pick, a first round selection that I would be completely comfortable with. In drafting Booth Jr., the team would immediately improve the ball skills and physicality in the secondary.
Moreover, given his ability to excel both in press bail as well as traditional press and off man coverage, Booth Jr. could be the perfect fit for the Steelers single high centric scheme which heavily relies on both Cover 1 and Cover 3. Both in frame as well as in their superior physicality and ball skills, I saw shades of Packers star Jaire Alexander in Andrew Booth Jr.’s tape. Once he is able to become more consistent in his ability to stay square in press coverage and eliminate free releases for receivers, Booth Jr. could become a perennial Pro-Bowl talent with his high end ball skills.
If the Steelers are unable to retain both Joe Haden and Ahkello Witherspoon, a possibility which is overwhelmingly likely, cornerback quietly becomes a top need, with a vacant starting spot to fill ahead of the 2022 season. Given the deep nature of this years cornerback class, with Derek Stingley Jr., Sauce Gardner, Kaiir Elam, Trent McDuffie, and Roger McCreary all drawing first round attention, an elite talent in Andrew Booth Jr. may be available at pick #20, where he may have been a top 10 pick in weaker cornerback drafts. Regardless of where he lands, Andrew Booth Jr. will likely make an impact early in his career with his elite ball skills and physical demeanor.
Projection: Late Day 1
Depot Draft Grade: 9.0-Year 1 Quality Starter (1st Round)
Games Watched: vs Wake Forest(2021), at Georgia(2021), vs Florida State(2021), vs Boston College(2021), vs Virginia(2020), at Georgia Tech(2020), vs Miami(2020), at Notre Dame(2020)