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Happy Mothers Day Raiders

The Chicago Bears’ 2024 draft didn’t feature many surprises until the end. First, they decided to draft punter Tory Taylor in the 4th round. Most thought that was their last selection. However, GM Ryan Poles had one more trick up his sleeve. He traded back into the draft with Buffalo for the Bears’ original 5th-round pick, using it to grab Kansas edge rusher Austin Booker. Experts loved the move. Most had a 3rd round grade on him despite only one year of experience and a somewhat light frame. His natural pass-rushing instincts and surprisingly advanced inventory of moves gave them hope he could develop into a solid pro.

What got people excited the most was the comparison he got. Booker reminded many draft analysts of Las Vegas Raiders superstar Maxx Crosby. He, too, was a Day 3 draft choice who came into the NFL with a thinner frame but natural feet for rushing the quarterback. He soon added weight, polished his game, and is now one of the three or four best in the league. It just so happens that Booker and Crosby work with the same trainer, Javon Gopie, also known as the Sack Sensei. This gave the rookie a chance to get the star’s contact information, and he’s been using it to get tips and advice ever since.

Austin Booker clearly has no ego.

That seems to reflect his age and lack of experience. The 5th round pick is only 21 years old. He doesn’t turn 22 until December. He is basically a kid by NFL standards. So it makes sense he’d be more open to advice from a veteran player. It probably helps that Bears defensive line coach Travis Smith was in Las Vegas when they drafted Crosby five years ago. He saw how things unfolded for the eventual Pro Bowler. That means the Bears already have a good blueprint in place for how to handle Booker.

Much of this depends on how he handles the complexity of the NFL level. Pro tackles are big, athletic, and smart. It takes more than athleticism and power to beat them. You need a pass rush plan, diagnosing how you’ll attack on every snap. If you go at them with the same move every time, they will shut you down. Austin Booker seems to understand that. That is the first step in him realizing his potential. Having Eric Washington as his defensive coordinator will also help. If things go as planned, this young man should have an impact sooner than you think.

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