If you’re looking for the steal of the 2022 NFL Draft defensive tackle class, you don’t have to look much further than the scouting report of Stanford DT Thomas Booker. Booker is near the top of the list when it comes to potential value deals. Projected as a mid-round pick, what traits does Booker have that might help him exceed his draft stock?
Thomas Booker’s NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Defensive Tackle
- School: Stanford
- Current Year: Senior
- Height: 6’3 3/8″
- Weight: 301 pounds
- Wingspan: 79 7/8″
- Length: 33 1/4″
- Hand: 10 5/8″
Booker’s Combine/pro day results
- 40-Yard Dash: 4.94
- Bench Press: 31
- Broad Jump: 9’2″
- Three-Cone: 7.33
- Short Shuttle: 4.41
Thomas Booker’s Scouting Report
It’s almost surprising that Booker doesn’t have more hype in the draft media. He’s experienced, productive, and frequently flashed at the East-West Shrine Bowl in the 2022 offseason. But even so, Booker remains somewhat of an under-the-radar prospect. However, all it takes is one NFL team to see the appeal, and he can go higher than expected.
Going off of that, it’s not hard to see the appeal with Booker. Over a long, illustrious career for the Stanford Cardinal, he’s amassed plenty of stats and quality tape to watch. Looking at the tape, what does Booker bring to the table, and how does he project at the NFL level?
Booker’s athletic profile
Booker’s upside is the first thing that should endear teams to his profile. He’s not an overwhelming size threat, but he has a dense, compact build at 6’3 3/8″, 304 pounds, with 33 1/4″ arms. Booker’s frame affords him a great combination of natural leverage and proportional length, and he’s shown he can use it well.
Going beyond Booker’s build, the Stanford DT explodes off the line with exceptional burst, and he also has great lateral twitch. He can cover lots of ground with his first step, and he can shoot out of his stance and win at the contact point with his initial burst. Booker also has great lateral agility, and he can stunt and manipulate leverage in short spaces. With his lateral burst and agility, Booker can splice through gaps in run defense.
Booker is athletic, as well as fluid. He can rotate his hips relatively freely when anchored, helping to adjust leverage. But he’s also strong and has power capacity. Although he can be more consistent channeling his power, Booker flashes legitimate upper body torque and power output in both phases. He can blast blockers back with his burst, length, and leverage. And as a run defender, he has the play strength to rip down anchors and shed blocks quickly.
Execution beyond the physical traits
Booker has notable alignment versatility. He lined up everywhere from 0-tech to 5-tech at Stanford. Although he likely fits in a more stable interior role at the next level, he has the athletic tools to take reps from a multitude of spots.
Especially around 3-tech, Booker is a stellar run defender. The Stanford DT can get under pads with his natural leverage. He can deconstruct blocks with violent hands and upper body torque, and he can swallow up ball carriers. Especially when one-gapping, he consistently sheds blocks and snares players within his reach. He also has the awareness to read running plays and shift across gaps. Booker is urgent in pursuit, and his motor always runs hot.
Overall, Booker is a smart, assignment-sound player who understands micro-movements and has good spatial awareness. While his hand usage can be more refined, he shows flashes there as well. The Stanford DT can club his opponent’s frame and get displacement, and he’s shown he can stack finesse and power moves mid-rep.
Areas for improvement
While his frame gives him good natural leverage, Booker does sometimes come up too tall out of his stance, sapping away from that leverage. His relatively high-hipped frame contributes to that, forcing him to bend at the waist. He occasionally loses balance when running with moving blocks and gives up too much surface area.
Going further, Booker’s hand usage needs refinement. While he has the capacity to generate movement at contact, the Stanford DT lacks consistent knock-back power in his hands. He can better channel power with his hands, and he can’t always cleanly establish levers. Booker can also be quicker at stacking counters and capitalizing on his lateral agility and twitch with targeted hand usage.
Among other things, Booker doesn’t quite have the strength or mass to be a nose tackle and handle double-teams. When doubled, he can be easily worked back in run defense. And while his awareness is good overall, he occasionally loses track of runners in congestion, and he sometimes struggles to disengage blocks.
Booker’s 2022 NFL Draft scouting report overview
Booker is one of the more underrated defensive tackles in the 2022 NFL Draft. He may not have quite as expansive of a role in the NFL that he had in college. But that’s not a bad thing. Refining his role could be one of the keys to maximizing his potential. And at his peak potential, he can be a very good player.
Booker doesn’t quite have the mass to consistently take reps at 0-tech and 1-tech. But at 3-tech and 2i, he’s a great match. In 1-on-1 situations, he has the explosiveness, twitch, torque, and power capacity to be a disruptive pass rusher. And as a run blocker, he can anchor, run with blocks, and deconstruct quickly when runners come his way.
Booker needs to work on more consistently channeling his power. He no doubt has the capacity to generate movement, but he doesn’t always show it. Honing his hand usage and improving his pad level will help the Stanford DT take the next step and become a disruptive player in both phases.
He can play 4-3 defensive tackle, but Booker might be best in 3-4 and hybrid front schemes. There, he’d not only have a nose tackle to help occupy blocks and keep him isolated, but that scheme would also maximize his alignment versatility. Booker has starting potential, and with his flexibility, he’ll at least be a solid rotational addition early on. He’s very much worth a mid-round pick and could be coveted in the late third by some teams.
Booker’s Player Profile
Hailing from Baltimore, Maryland, Booker was a coveted prospect when he came onto the recruiting trail in the 2018 cycle. Booker was a four-star recruit, listed as the 211th overall player on ESPN’s board. The future Stanford DT had the talent and the production to match. Over his final two high school seasons, he amassed 9 sacks and 23 tackles for loss.
Booker had offers from a host of schools. Most notably, the Clemson Tigers — known for their consistent development of stars on the defensive line — were keen on Booker’s potential. Programs like Ohio State, Notre Dame, LSU, and Michigan also competed for his commitment. But Booker, a vice president in his senior class, was drawn to Stanford for its athletic and academic opportunities.
Booker’s career at Stanford
From the start of his career there, Booker was quietly a very consistent player for the Stanford Cardinal. As a true freshman, he played in 12 games and started three. The next year, he logged six starts. And in 2020 and 2021, he was a full-time starter.
Over that time span, Booker also accumulated plenty of production behind the line of scrimmage. The Stanford DT collected 159 total tackles, 20.5 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks, 8 pass deflections, and a forced fumble in four seasons with the Cardinal. He never had less than 3 tackles for loss in a given season and had 5 during the 2021 campaign.
Booker was a dynamic playmaker on the field, but he was just as impactful off of it. The Stanford DT was a team captain in both 2020 and 2021. He was also a frequent academic honoree and a finalist for the 2021 William V. Campbell Award, given to athletes who excel off the field and in the community.
Booker’s NFL Draft ascension
Seeing Booker’s dynamic athleticism and power, in conjunction with his pristine off-field résumé, he seems like a player that the NFL will be high on. It’s hard to get a read on his NFL Draft stock, but he’ll certainly be selected and could go earlier than most expect. Booker ensures that with his high ceiling, relative security, and positional versatility.
Booker’s best fit at the next level is in a role where he can be kept clean and in 1-on-1 situations. But as a 3-4 end in odd-front alignments, he has the explosiveness, lateral agility, twitch, play strength, and power capacity to be a similarly productive NFL player. As he continues to refine his hand usage, the arrow will only keep going up.