Monday, May 20, 2024

Austin Booker Admits Bears Coaches Have Been Ruthless With Him


The Chicago Bears pulled a big surprise last month when they traded back into the 2024 draft for a 5th round pick from Buffalo. With it they selected Kansas edge rusher Austin Booker, adding some much-needed depth and upside to their defensive line. The fact he draws comparisons to Maxx Crosby is certainly noteworthy. He only started one season in college but had eight sacks and 12 tackles for a loss. For somebody with his inexperience, he showed a natural feel for rushing the quarterback that is hard to ignore.

Many experts graded Booker in the 3rd round. Following last season, it was expected that he’d return for another year. It was a surprise when he declared for the draft. If he’d stayed, it was possible he would end up a top-50 pick in 2025. So, the Bears may have gotten themselves a hidden gem or a cake that needs to stay in the oven a little longer. Getting him where he needs to be requires a good plan from the coaches. Booker told Jeff Joniak on the Bears Weekly podcast that both defensive coordinator Eric Washington and defensive line coach Travis Smith haven’t wasted time drilling him hard.

That includes pointing out all of his mistakes.

Austin Booker couldn’t have landed in a better situation.

Washington built a reputation as one of the best defensive line coaches in the NFL over the past decade with Carolina and Buffalo before joining the Bears. He’s worked with some of the best, including Julius Peppers, Charles Johnson, and Von Miller. If anybody understands how to turn a young player into a professional, it’s him. Don’t ignore Smith, though. He is an understudy of Rod Marinelli, who himself was a terrific defensive line coach for many years. He was with the Las Vegas Raiders when they drafted and developed Maxx Crosby and did good work with Gervon Dexter last season.

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Everything necessary is in place for Austin Booker. He has two excellent coaches to guide his development and solid veterans like Montez Sweat and DeMarcus Walker to learn from. He has the ability to play at this level—nobody disputes that. Size? Length? Athleticism? He has it all. Everything comes down to how hard he’s willing to work to reach his full potential. Expand his inventory of pass rush moves, add some extra muscle, and he has the makings of a problem quarterbacks won’t like.


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May 20, 2024 9:21 pm

. . .still waiting.

May 20, 2024 3:00 pm

So, maybe someone will take the time to identify the GM of a single NFL team (other than our “perpetual rookie” GM and the Bears) that actually believed in Montez Sweat and Keenan Allen — and one who had sufficient cap space and more than a mere inclination to sign either of these two, fine players — particularly, at the premium price each player received. Please make sure this time, it’s more than an alledged belief, as it was that Green Bay’s GM, Brian Gutekunst had an imminent interest in WR, Chase Claypool (which also, simply never materialized). You see,… Read more »

May 19, 2024 9:42 pm

Well gena Sweat and Allen are worth the $$ and well worth the draft picks. You got a lot of what ifs. Well what if the Bears actually become a really good team despite all your Poles hate? What if they win a Superbowl while he’s the GM? Then what? How about what if you take twty and go on a long vacation together.

May 18, 2024 11:14 am

This was a nice selection — pick #144, of Austin Booker (ranked EDGE #11; and overall the #79 player — on the 2024 Consensus Big Board). While rankings and grades (PFF, et al) are not determinative, it’s comforting to see that someone at Halas Hall is paying attention Kudos to whoever woke Poles, as well as, to Ryan Poles himself, for making the “re-trade” with the Bills, to get back in this year’s draft. But, as a “harsh critic” of Ryan Poles’ GM acumen, and one who views Poles as the “perpetual rookie” GM, I have to wonder what the… Read more »

May 18, 2024 8:52 am

It’s crazy how much just will and desire go into being great. Do great coaches help, absolutely, but there has to be a personal inner drive too, and some have it and some don’t. I remember Maxx Crosby playing in HS here in TX, as he played against my son’s team. He was good, but wasn’t great, in fact, each game I saw him play there were probably 5-7 guys better on the field at the same time. He went to a small D1 school, and he himself put in the work effort, and drive to become what he is… Read more »

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