When the Denver Broncos selected former Utah Utes running back Devontae Booker in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL Draft, many in the media believed the Broncos snagged a potential steal and future workhorse back. In just two seasons in the PAC-12, Booker dominated the competition and racked up over 3,300 total yards from scrimmage and 23 touchdowns. That gaudy production earned him a second day grade by most draft analysts, but concerns in regard to a torn meniscus he suffered late in his senior season dropped him to the draft’s third day.
In his first carry in the pros, Booker coughed up the ball — but former Head Coach Gary Kubiak wasn’t going to give up on him after that. Though the start of his NFL career was rough, he went on to have a productive rookie campaign. Overall, Booker rushed for 612 yards and four touchdowns, but also demonstrated his worth as a receiver and reeled in 31 passes for 265 yards and a score.
Almost 70% of Devontae Booker's yards came after contact in 2016. pic.twitter.com/WDCpBaxsCB— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) June 25, 2017
Entering his second season, the hopes were high for Booker, who was praised by Head Coach Vance Joseph during Organized Team Activities as the team’s potential lead back for the coming season. Unfortunately, a wrist injury suffered late during those sessions landed him on the physically unable to perform list to begin the year and hurt his ability to make an impact this past season. In thirteen games, Booker amassed only 299 yards and one touchdown on the ground, but continued to shine as a receiver hauling in 30 receptions for 275 yards.
While I fully expect the Broncos to draft a running back in the 2018 NFL Draft, don’t dismiss the idea of Booker being the team’s lead back this coming season. It’s not etched in stone, but the team may decide to move on from C.J. Anderson to create more cap space this offseason. Anderson is scheduled to make $4.5 million next year and can be released without incurring any dead money. If that happens, Booker is the franchise’s starter by default entering training camp and would have an enormous leg up on the competition.
Ran into Devontae Booker in airport. Thrilled to have offseason of training without dealing with injury. Knee and wrist healed. I told him all anyone wants to know is who will be #Broncos QB? "It's same question I get everyday" #Denver7— Troy Renck (@TroyRenck) January 22, 2018
Devontae Booker’s 2017 PFF Grade
According to Pro Football Focus, Booker earned a 72.8 grade, which registers as the ‘average’ category on their grading scale. He ranked thirty-eighth overall among eligible backs and had a higher receiving grade (76.2) compared to a 68.9 as a rusher.
Devontae Booker’s Contract Outlook
Booker signed a four-year deal after being drafted in 2016 and is under contract for the next two seasons. He is scheduled to earn base salaries of $725,848 in 2018 and $815,484 dollars in 2019.
Devontae Booker’s 2018 Status
Booker is a lock to make the team’s final 53 man roster. The only question moving forward is how big of a role will he play in 2018. Given Joseph’s praise of him prior to being hurt in OTA’s, I believe the expectations will be high for the third-year player. If the Broncos decide to move on from Anderson, Booker should be poised to have a breakout year this coming season and will provide a much needed boost the team desperately needs on offense.