The Las Vegas Raiders are already projected to start one Clemson cornerback next season so why not two? Andrew Booth is a fluid athlete who would be an instant upgrade over the Raiders’ current corners and should be on their radar in the first round of this year’s NFL Draft.
CB | Clemson | 6’0” and 195 pounds | Lawrenceville, GA | September 28th, 2000 (21.4)
Andrew Booth came to Clemson as a five-star recruit and the second-ranked corner in the country for the 2019 class, per 247 Sports. He was more of a special teams contributor as a true freshman and mixed in the starting rotation as a sophomore before becoming a full-time starter during his junior year. In the Tigers’ zone-heavy defense where he played almost exclusively as an outside corner, Booth racked up 68 total tackles, 5 interceptions and eight pass breakups, while allowing a 56.8 completion percentage, 498 yards and four touchdowns in three years.
- Pre-snap, he plays the game within the game by moving around both vertically and horizontally to avoid tipping the coverage to the quarterback
- Good footwork and agility to maintain a leverage advantage at the line of scrimmage when playing press
- When he does get turned around at the line of scrimmage or during the stem phase of the route, he has very fluid and quick hips to execute speed turns and recover
- When playing off coverage, he recognizes when receivers are attacking his leverage and uses a leverage step to maintain his advantage and force the receiver where he wants them to go
- Also has the foot speed to maintain a cushion while backpedaling when playing off
- Rarely bites on double-moves
- Very impressive change of direction (COD) and transitions to cover 90-degree or whip routes man-to-man, and he stops and has good route recognition to stay attached to wideouts running curls
- He’s able to anticipate back shoulder throws coming and stays snug to the wide receiver to be in a position to force an incompletion
- In zone coverage, he has excellent peripheral vision to stare at the quarterback and still find receivers coming into his area and/or see opportunities to help teammates in coverage and take away throws
- Solid strength to disrupt wide out’s routes when playing underneath zones
- He doesn't take the cheese as an underneath defender, opting to sink and take away the deeper route when put in conflict
- Displays the ability to pattern match with a fire zone call, effectively picking up and passing off route runners based on his assignment
- Impressive ability to click and close, he’s very fast and converges on the ball quickly to limit yards after the catch
- When in phase and with his back to the quarterback, he turns his head to locate the ball in the air
- Has shown the concentration to come up with interceptions on contested catches
- Shows a comprehensive understanding of run fits by making adjustments to his path to fill the alley, and he has pretty good instincts to diagnose run plays quickly and get to the correct spot
- Has enough strength to get extension and shed against wide receivers’ blocks
- Overall, he’s a willing run defender and displays good effort and angles to help save touchdowns in pursuit on the backside of runs
Areas of Improvement:
- While he played a lot of press coverage, he wasn’t asked to jam receivers at the line of scrimmage much and didn’t look comfortable doing it the few times did try to jam. He looked passive and was soft with his punch, leading to struggles covering slants.
- He can be a little quick to open his hips to turn and run at the line of scrimmage
- When playing press, he does get turned around by receivers who have a good jab step on their release
- Could afford to sink his hips a little more against curls. This wasn’t an issue in college but could be one at the next level against sharp route runners and/or quarterbacks who throw with good anticipation
- Having played in such a zone-heavy scheme, he never or rarely had to cover from a trail position against drag routes
- Doesn’t recognize opportunities to ROBOT with no threats to his area in zone coverage
- His timing is off to get pass breakups, he’s both early and late but rarely on time
- He either has short arms or doesn’t use them well, he only had three PBUs last year despite getting targeted twice as much as the year before
- Body catcher, he doesn’t have natural hands for interceptions
- Dives at the ball carrier’s feet when tackling and he will miss tackles because of this, PFF credited him with 11 whiffs (23.9 percent of opportunities) this past season.
- 2020: Shoulder nerve damage (missed 2 games)
- 2021: Upper Body injury (missed 1 game)
- 2021: Hamstring strain (missed 1 game)
NFL Mock Draft Database consensus big board rank: 25th, 1st round
While the general consensus seems to be that Derek Stingley and Ahamad “Sauce” Gardner are the top two corners in this draft class, Booth is firmly in the CB3 conversation, and rightfully so. He’s an impressive athlete to hold up in man coverage and shows the intelligence to be effective in zone coverage as well. To put it simply, if he “doesn’t fit” in your defensive scheme, then there’s something wrong with your scheme.
One of the biggest areas that could impact the Clemson product’s draft stock is his injury history. He had a clean bill of health when he barely played as a freshman, but as his playing time has gone up, so have his injuries. None of the ailments above have cost him too much time in the past, but it’s not a good sign that he keeps getting banged up.
What do we need to know?
What is his long speed like? To be honest, I don’t have many questions when it comes to Booth, however, I did find it hard to gauge his overall speed on tape. He wasn’t getting beat deep a lot, but he was also playing a lot of zone and off coverage. There were even a few times where it felt like he was playing with more cushion than he needed to, to potentially hide any sort of speed limitations. Unfortunately, Ian Rapoport reported that Booth strained a quad a few days before NFL Combine, so the former Tiger won’t be participating in any of the on-field drills and we’ll have to wait until his pro day to get our answer.
Fit with the Raiders:
This one’s pretty simple. Las Vegas needs a starting-caliber cornerback and Booth should be there with the 22nd overall pick, based on his current projections. Unless they opt to address another position or another team swoops in and takes him earlier, I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up being the Raiders’ guy. As referenced above, Booth should have no problems fitting into Patrick Graham’s defense, and I don’t have any concerns about him picking up an NFL playbook having played in Brent Venables’ complicated scheme for three years.
3rd & long, Clemson calls Tampa 2— Matt Holder (@MHolder95) March 2, 2022
Andrew Booth has curl to flat but sees the out from #2, comes off his man to take away the out & rallies to make the stop pic.twitter.com/1o9Zo78O6e
Andrew Booth is playing soft press coverage & gets a good jab step from the WR to the inside, but Booth has good footwork & balance to stay in phase and take away the back shoulder throw pic.twitter.com/y3UbDIhgWP— Matt Holder (@MHolder95) March 2, 2022
Reads screen, physical while taking on the block, gets off the block & makes the tackle. Well done by Andrew Booth pic.twitter.com/ekFSYtZ7D5— Matt Holder (@MHolder95) March 2, 2022
When the film room meets the field, instincts & acceleration allow Andrew Booth to make a TFL here pic.twitter.com/xxLPfOt8yv— Matt Holder (@MHolder95) March 2, 2022
This isn’t a highlight reel rep from Andrew Booth by any means, but it’s an example of how fluid his hips are and how they can help him stay in phase if he gets turned around pic.twitter.com/GUZdLOin4R— Matt Holder (@MHolder95) March 2, 2022