Powered by On3

Mel Kiper Jr. explains why Kansas DL Austin Booker is being overlooked in 2024 NFL Draft

On3 imageby:Dan Morrison02/20/24


Austin Booker
© Evert Nelson/The Capital-Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

The NFL Draft cycle is underway, and with that, the debate about which players should belong where is underway. Typically, those NFL Draft debates center around quarterbacks. However, there are plenty of other players deserving of notice throughout the process.

On First Draft, Mel Kiper Jr. and Field Yates discussed possibly overlooked players. That included defensive lineman Austin Booker out of Kansas, who Kiper thinks could be a top-100 pick, despite only having one college start.

“Well, Austin Booker, you think about a pass rusher off the edge coming out of Kansas, formerly of Minnesota,” Kiper said. “He didn’t do much at Minnesota, right? Think about at Kansas and a guy who has length, and I love the fact that he showed a little bend at times at six-four and a half, 240lbs.”

Austin Booker spent the first two seasons of his college career at Minnesota before transferring to Kansas. There, he became a First-Team All-Big 12 selection and would be named Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year.

“What do I like more than anything? I like length. Long arms. Being able to utilize that ability to basically deflect passes away, become a factor. Not let an offensive tackle get into your body. The way he disengages against the run, he seals the edge there, he’s still getting better. He’s just scratched the surface of what he can be in the National Football League.”

During that one season with the Jayhawks, Austin Booker had 12 tackles for loss and eight sacks.

“Talk about Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year. The Texas game and the Kansas State game this year stood out for me for Austin Booker, and you like a guy who did virtually nothing until he got to Kansas and then he kind of explodes onto the national scene. When you’re his height and when you are able to add some weight and when you played up and down at Kansas very effective, and he had standout performances in a couple games where he was popping, and you saw as I say, a little bend — and he’s gonna keep getting better in that regard once he’s coached up. He’s got that secondary move going on already. He’s gonna keep getting better there,” Kiper said.

“Austin Booker, a guy that could be a little overlooked early because he was a kind of a one-year wonder. You would’ve liked to see another year at the collegiate level to build on that, but he didn’t have it. So, maybe he drops down just a little bit further than he really should. [I] really like Austin Booker in that third, fourth round area.”

For his part, Field Yates agreed with Mel Kiper Jr. Austin Booker has a ton of potential, but the challenge is balancing his upside and lack of experience with where he’s being projected.

“He might need a full redshirt year because he has played so little football, even at the college football level, but if he hits that top percentile outcome, Austin Booker could become one of the best pure pass rushers from a class that is not exactly stock full of them,” Yates concluded.