Clemson Cornerback Andrew Booth Jr. Clemson, SC Friday, December 17, 2021.
Prior to the 2022 NFL Draft, the Minnesota Vikings had a clear weakness on the defensive side of the ball. Weak secondary play has been a theme in the last two seasons, but for the first time ever, it seems like forever, Vikings fans have reason to be optimistic about the backend of the defense.
Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and his new regime have dedicated their first two choices to this year’s draft. After two trades in the division, Georgia safety Lewis Cine and Clemson cornerback Andrew Booth Jr. of Minnesota heard their names.
Cine should be seen as a starter on the first day, but Booth is likely to play a starting role as well. Despite being the 42nd draft overall, most analysts considered the former Clemson star to be a first-round talent. In the pre-drafting process his sports hernia surgery limited his ability to test the combine, which probably led to his draft stock falling into the second round.
Booth’s athleticism shows up on tape, so it’s not something that should be about getting into the first round of the OTA this week. Although he didn’t participate much during the rookie minicamp, HC Kevin O’Connell said the booth was “really close” to returning to the football field.
Let’s dive into some skill sets that Booth will bring to a medium that requires additional playmakers.
It is entirely possible that the Vikings were cornerbacks with the best ball skills of the whole class at the age of 42 years. His break in football comes naturally to him, and he has the hand to take it safely.
Booth has made five interceptions at Clemson in his last two years, and the one above seems to have chosen his inner Odell Beckham Jr. Adding a cornerback to the ability to win the jump ball and secure takeaway will work wonders in Ed Donatel’s defense.
Perhaps the most entertaining aspect of Booth’s game is his desire to run and land in screen games. He’s a risk taker at heart, and that’s not always a good thing, but when he finds himself in the backfield, he feels his presence.
He uses leverage and seems to have mastered the art of dealing with the ankle. There is a physique that he displays regularly and he is not afraid to let the opposing team know after a big game of any kind.
Good tackling skills combined with top-end ball skills are arguably the two most important features that can make a cornerback in today’s NFL. Although we don’t have a number of tests to match both features, the film shows that the next level of booths is athleticism for playing sticky coverage.
While Booth is not the biggest cornerback to come to the NFL, it has plenty of length to use for its convenience.
The former Clemson Tiger is just over 6 feet long and has an arm length of 31-and-a-half inches. The wingspan comes in at just under 77 inches, ranking it 71st percentile, according to MockDraftable.com.
These scalables are efficient and show that size will not be a problem at the next level.
Learning from legends and competitions
Having good players in leadership roles can go a long way in developing young players in the NFL. The good news for Booth is that he will be able to pick the brain of Patrick Peterson’s potential future Hall of Famer.
What it brings to the table is more competition to the medium. This pick can be seen as a win-win situation, as it will either create another starting-caliber cornerback or give the Vikings more depth in the position of need.
Booth was taken early in the second round, so he will probably be a starter one day. However, it should also be seen as a win if it brings another level to Cameron Dantzler’s game.
The Vikings trading frenzy across the draft has made some people question Adopho-Mensah’s decision, but it shouldn’t be. Instead of adding a blue-chip player to the medium with the 12th overall pick, he was able to add two early-caliber players due to the trade back.
Booth has an extremely high ceiling and even told members of the media during his post-draft press conference that he has not played perfectly healthy since high school. If all goes well and Booth stays healthy, Minnesota has the potential to be its true lockdown cornerback for many years to come.
The secondary has been reformed, and three levels of defense for top-level athletes have been added. Not a ton of resources were spent on the offense, but competition was added to the right guard as well as the in-depth list in WR, TE and RB.
Jack Day is a senior writer in the Vikings Territory. He spent time writing for KFAN.com, the Vikings War, and worked for the Vikings. He co-hosted the original Vikings Territory podcast @ LTBVikings. You can follow him on Twitter.Jack_H_Day.