Top 5 Insights on the Chicago Bears' New Defensive End, Austin Booker

Vince Carbonneau
April 29, 2024  (10:10)

Austin Booker at Kansas
Photo credit: KSN-TV

In a surprising turn of events, the Chicago Bears made a bold move during the 2024 NFL Draft, opting to trade back into the fifth round after depleting their initial set of picks. General Manager Ryan Poles traded away their 2025 fourth-round pick to reclaim the 144th overall pick, which they had previously traded in exchange for offensive lineman Ryan Bates. With this pick, they secured defensive end Austin Booker from Kansas.

Booker had a standout 2023 season following his transfer from Minnesota, amassing 56 tackles (12 for a loss), eight sacks, and two forced fumbles. Despite projections placing him in the third round, he slid to the fifth, where the Bears eagerly scooped him up to fill a pressing need at edge rusher.
Here are a few key insights about the Bears' new defensive end:
1. **Professional Comparison: Maxx Crosby**
Often, comparisons should be taken with a grain of salt; however, it's hard to contain the excitement around Booker being likened to NFL standout Maxx Crosby. Like Crosby, Booker was also a mid-round draft pick who excelled in his final college season. Although Crosby was slightly heavier at the time of his draft, the Bears are likely to encourage Booker to bulk up. Both players are known for their extensive reach and significant potential, and it's notable that the Bears' defensive line coach, who worked with Crosby, played a role in selecting Booker.
2. **Potential First-Round Talent for 2025**
Despite limited college gameplay, with only 505 snaps to his name, Booker is considered a high-potential yet relatively untested prospect. NFL analysts suggested that had he played another collegiate season, he could have been a first-round pick in 2025. The Bears may have found a gem in the later rounds, thanks to his unexplored potential.
3. **Dominance at the Senior Bowl**
Booker didn't just have an outstanding season; he also shined at the Senior Bowl, particularly against Jordan Morgan, the Green Bay Packers' first-round pick. As underclassmen were invited for the first time in 2024, Booker used this platform to showcase his skills, particularly his versatility in defeating Morgan using a variety of techniques.
4. **Third-Best Sack Record in the Big 12**
At Kansas, Booker was not just a team asset but also one of the top performers in the Big 12 Conference, ranking third in sacks. His ability to tackle both quarterbacks and runners demonstrates his versatility and alignment with the play style favored by Bears' head coach Matt Eberflus.
5. **Ambitious Rookie Goals**
Despite his fifth-round selection, Booker is determined to start in his first year. His ambition is supported by his commitment to hard work and high energy, characteristics highly valued by the coaching staff. With some positions up for grabs, Booker's preseason performance could indeed secure him a starting spot early in his NFL career.
These insights into Austin Booker's career and potential signal an exciting future for him with the Chicago Bears, as he aims to translate his collegiate success into professional accolades.
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Top 5 Insights on the Chicago Bears' New Defensive End, Austin Booker

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