The Minnesota Vikings own the No. 12 overall pick in the first round of the 2022 NFL draft. In this “Vikings draft profile” series, we will look at several options for Minnesota with their top pick and how they would fit into the grand scheme of things.
In this edition, we look at Clemson cornerback Andrew Booth Jr.
Perhaps best known for his ridiculous one-handed interception in 2020 on an island against Virginia, Booth Jr. is a twitchy cornerback with a hunter’s fearlessness versus the run and quick-hitting passes.
In 2021, Booth Jr. was credited with 37 tackles (three for a loss), three interceptions and five pass breakups across 11 games and 581 snaps. He earned first-team All-ACC honors and was a finalist for the Blanchard-Rogers Trophy, which goes to the top player either in or from the state of South Carolina.
Booth Jr. appeared in 24 games his first two seasons in Death Valley but made just four starts. He ranked eighth on the team in tackles with 27 as a sophomore and tied for second on the defense with two picks.
During Clemson’s run to the College Football Championship in 2019, Booth Jr. played 65 defensive snaps and was used sparingly on special teams. He was touted by Rivals.com as the No. 8 player in his class and was deemed a top-50 player in the country by every major recruiting service before wearing Tiger orange and regalia.
Booth Jr. might fly under the radar because of his inability to participate in events leading up to the draft and his dearth of starting experience – clubs also may be put off by his 63% completion rate in coverage (he gave up 29 catches on 46 targets for 312 yards, per Pro Football Focus) in his single season as a full-time starter – but his athletic ability and ball skills, particularly down the field, are special attributes.
Note: Booth Jr. didn’t partake in drills at the NFL combine or Clemson’s Pro Day because of a strained quad muscle and subsequent surgery to fix a sports hernia. He expects to be healthy for training camp.
40-yard dash: N/A
Bench press: N/A
Vertical jump: N/A
Broad jump: N/A
3-cone drill: N/A
20-yard shuttle: N/A
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
“A press/zone combo corner with good size and length, Booth plays with an urgent, competitive nature. He has the strength, balance and foot agility to press and slow the release. He has limited starting experience, though. He will need more development to prevent route specialists from manipulating his feet and hips. Booth has the ball-tracking and play strength to find and maintain top-dog positioning through catch tries. He's more effective in off coverage underneath than tight man. He needs to play more football, but his ball-hawking instincts, burst to close and toughness in run support will be very appealing for zone teams looking for an upgrade at cornerback.” – Lance Zierlein
“A long strider with above-average speed, Booth occasionally has trouble with his change of direction and breaking, with his top-end speed being a question of concern. There are times where he lacks the crisp breaks desired due to his high pad level. Though he has good press-man skills, Booth works best when he can see routes develop in front of him. With the ball in the air, he has shown the ball skills needed to defend short and deep passes as well as the ability to play through the receiver. One of Booth's best attributes is his physicality when taking on blockers. He has the strength to control and shed most blockers from the receiver position.” – Cory Giddings
“When it comes to areas of growth, Booth Jr. can clean up some missed tackles and improve in zone coverage. While he’s never passive as a tackler, there are instances where he leaves his feet with too much distance between himself and the ball-carrier or isn’t under enough control to finish. … In year one, Booth Jr. has the ability to compete for a starting role and has the makings of a high-level impact starter by year two or three. He is a versatile player that can execute in any coverage technique and has no matchup restrictions. He could even warrant some situational opportunities to play in the slot given his quickness and willingness to trigger and fit the run closer to the box.” – Joe Marino
HOW HE FITS
A popular pro comp for Booth Jr. is hard-hitting Baltimore cornerback Marlon Humphrey. The comparison goes beyond measurables – Booth Jr. is 6-foot, 194 pounds and Humphrey is 6-foot, 197. Like Humphrey, Booth Jr. blazes a trail to the football. He’s quick deciphering between run and pass and diagnosing throws near the line of scrimmage – and for the most part, he’s an above-average tackler. Booth Jr.’s awareness, his in-phase reaction to receivers and snapshot commitment to close the space between ball carriers, may be his strongest quirk, and could camouflage any speed concerns in the NFL. It doesn’t seem likely that Minnesota takes Booth Jr. with the 12th overall pick – especially if any of the top 3 cornerbacks (Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, Derek Stingley Jr. or Trent McDuffie) are left on the board. But if the Vikings traded down, and Booth Jr. was available at the end of Day 1, he’d be a fine selection. His athleticism lends itself to inside-outside versatility. His confident play-style reeks of an instant impact. On the contrary, however, Booth Jr. has Osgood-Schlatter Disease, which poses trouble for his knees in the future.