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Possible Patriots Draft Target, RB Devontae Booker

Steve Balestrieri
Steve Balestrieri on Twitter
April 12, 2016 at 6:00 am ET

Possible Patriots Draft Target, RB Devontae Booker(PHOTO: USA Today - USA TODAY Sports)

🕑 Read Time: 3 minutes

Booker is a Three-down Back That Can Do It All

As the 2016 NFL Draft draws closer we’ll profile some of the players that may be on the Patriots radar. Some of these players have already been linked to New England as possible targets others, we feel would be a great fit.

The Patriots may still target a running back in the 2016 NFL Draft, although they have signed former Colt and Charger Donald Brown, they don’t really have a reliable three-down back at least until Dion Lewis is fully healthy from his ACL tear. Brown has had some degree of success in the passing game, as had Lewis and James White but the Pats need a consistent ground gainer between the tackles. Brandon Bolden is mainly a special teams’ maven and Tyler Gaffney is still looking to get on the field in Year 3.

The Patriots haven’t drafted many running backs in the Belichick era (8), but with the need apparent, especially late in the season with the injuries piling up, this may be a time to strike earlier in the draft.

Devontae Booker from Utah would be a perfect fit for the Patriots offense and a great possible target in the upcoming 2016 NFL Draft. After coming out of JUCO Booker took over the starting back role for the Utes and rushed for 1512 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2014. He added 43 receptions for 306 yards and two more scores. His final season was cut short due to injury at just 10 games but still rushed for 1261 yards, 11 touchdowns while adding 37 catches out of the backfield for 318 yards.

Booker is a smart, savvy runner who shows patience in waiting for the holes to open and then knowing when to hit the gas and accelerate. The 5’11, 219-pound Booker has the size and bulk to handle every-down back duties and comes from a pro-style system that should make his learning curve small if he’s targeted.

While he doesn’t have breakaway speed, his vision and footwork allow himself to find creases in the defense that can be exploited. Booker is the type of back that gets better the more work he gets.

devontae booker

Pros:

– Can cut and change direction while maintaining top speed

– Great hands and vision for catching the ball out of the backfield

– Versatile can be a three-down back

– Good in short-yardage as well as pass protection

Cons

– Has good but not breakaway speed

– Ball security was an issue at times

– Had a knee injury (torn meniscus), not serious but may give teams pause

What his Role Will Be:
His role in the New England offense would be as a three-down back. He is a very effective runner between the tackles and gets better as the game wears on. He’s also a very good pass receiver with 80 receptions the past two seasons.

Will his Role Change from Year 1-2?
Yes, as he becomes more acclimated to the pro game, he’ll get even more work and possibly become the featured back in the Patriots system.

How Many Downs Can He Play?
Three

What Current Player on the Roster Will He Replace?
Booker would replace free agent LeGarrette Blount as the lead running back in the ground game.

What is his ST Value?
Minimal

Conclusion:
Booker would be a tremendous upgrade for the running back position. He fulfills a need for a back who can not only run the ball effectively between the tackles but catch it out of the backfield as well.

He would be a perfect complement to the New England offense. He gives them a big, reliable back who can not only get them the tough yardage inside and keep defenses honest, but will provide Tom Brady another target in the passing game while providing solid pass protection.

Booker is tough and productive and will be a very good short-yardage and goal-line back with his vision and footwork.

With the qualities of being a three-down back and coupled with the Patriots pass-first system, Booker can be a Starter on Day 1. He’s slotted to go between Rounds 1-2 in the upcoming NFL Draft. If he’s still around in Round 2, they’d possibly have to make a move up to pick him up.

Booker’s junior season highlight film can be found here, courtesy of Highlight Genius:

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About Steve Balestrieri

A former US Army Special Forces NCO and Officer, Steve has been following the Patriots since their days at Fenway Park. Steve has worked in the film industry and wrote as an Military Editor at SpecialOperations.com, 1945.com as a reporter for the Millbury Daily Voice, Millbury-Sutton Chronicle, and the Grafton News. He's also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)


Tags: 2016 NFL Combine 2016 NFL Draft 2016 Patriots Draft 2016 Patriots Mock Drafts 2016 Patriots Roster 53 Man Roster Projection Bill Belichick Brandon Bolden Devontae Booker Dion Lewis LaGarrette Blount New England Patriots Patriots running backs Tom Brady Tyler Gaffney

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