Surprise! Bears Select DE Austin Booker at No. 144

The Chicago Bears have selected DE Austin Booker at No. 144 in the 2024 NFL Draft after completing a trade with the Buffalo Bills. Booker has ideal length combined with an explosive first step that should help him contribute as a designated pass rusher early in his career.

My Take: The Bears need a pass rusher to pair with Montez Sweat and got great value in Booker, who was considered a second or third-round pick on most boards. He’s a work in progress, and a more conservative approach to Booker’s high grade might be the correct analysis, but it becomes a difficult route to take due to his length, explosive athleticism, and penchant for getting to the quarterback. Booker needs to get bigger and stronger, but that will come. Booker might have been a Day 1 pick in 2025 had he stayed in school for his senior year. Rick Leen had Booker ranked No. 19 in his pre-draft positional analysis.

Here’s his final draft analysis per Keith Sanchez of The Draft Network:

“Booker is a redshirt junior who started his career off at Minnesota. He transferred to Kansas and had the best year of his career, posting a stat line of 56 tackles, eight sacks, and two forced fumbles. Booker has an explosive first step and great length at the edge position, which are two main traits that allow him to be an impactful player rushing the quarterback.

“Overall, Booker profiles as a player who should be utilized on known passing downs as he has the physical tools to make an impact, but there will be a development curve for him playing the run.”

Strengths (via

  • Possesses basketball-player wingspan with a frame that is sure to add more mass.
  • Pairs long-striding edge attack with vicious inside spin counter.
  • Impressive speed-to-power and dip-and-flatten techniques as a rusher.
  • Excellent feel for turning shoulders and eluding blocker’s hands.
  • Length and speed put him on top of QBs/RBs before they know it.
  • Out-reaches the tackle to extend and set the edge versus the run.
  • Shows unique ability to use his length to work around blocks.
  • Has pursuit speed to rack up tackles and tackles for loss as a pro.

Weaknesses (via

  • One of the lowest career snap counts (505, per PFF) you’ll see for a draftable prospect.
  • Needs to get much stronger in both his upper and lower body.
  • Pad level can get away from him on inside moves.
  • Gets in trouble when run blockers sink into frame.
  • Could struggle against downhill run attacks without trying to elude blocks.

Fun Fact

The Bears had originally traded the pick to the Bills for Ryan Bates and gave up a fourth-round pick in 2025 to get it back.

Here’s what the ESPN analysts said about Booker:

  • “Booker started only one game in college and didn’t test as well as expected at the combine, but there are impressive flashes on tape. His length is one of his greatest assets, and it makes it tough for offensive linemen to get into his frame. As a pass-rusher, he shows explosive knock-back power and is smooth working inside when offensive linemen get caught on their heels. He doesn’t have elite bend or burst but occasionally wins with speed off the edge. Booker has active hands and the ability to slip blocks, and he chases with good effort as a run-defender. He’s lean but can shoot his hands and stack bigger blockers. ” – Steve Muensch
  • NFL Comp: Maxx Crosby
  • ESPN Rank: 83
  • ESPN Grade: 78
  • Last Year’s No. 144 Pick: Atonio Mafi
  • Last Booker Selected by the Bears: WR Marty Booker, 3rd Round, 1999
  • Money Quote: “I’ve shown NFL evaluators that I can hang. I’ve showcased my football IQ throughout this process. I love this game. It’s going to come together very well for me at the next level. I want to be a first year starter.”

Back to top button