Monday, July 14, 2008

Breakout Player: RB Lorenzo Booker (Eagles)

2878 yards rushing, 50 TDs; 16 catches 300 yards receiving 3 TDs; these were the numbers that RB Lorenzo Booker put up in his senior year at St. Bonaventure High School in Ventura, CA. Ranked as one of the top 5 prospects in the entire country, on a nationally televised press conference, Booker chose a full-ride scholarship to Florida St over Notre Dame and University of Southern California (USC).

After four mediocre years plagued with injuries and bad offenses for the Seminoles, the 6'0'' 195 pound running back was selected in the 3rd Round (71st pick overall) to the Miami Dolphins in the 2007 NFL Draft. Hoping to be a impact behind RB Ronnie Brown and used significantly on special teams, Booker only saw action in 7 games posting a total of 28 carries for 125 yards rushing but did collect 28 catches for 237 yards receiving. That is an impressive number playing only a limited number of reps a game, but not the 'big play wow factor' that the Dolphins had hoped for.

In a surprising move, new Miami GM Bill Parcells traded Booker to the Philadelphia Eagles for a 4th round 115th overall selection in last April's 2008 NFL Draft (44 picks lower than where he was drafted a year ago). While, no one knows for sure why this trade was made, Eagles fans should be excited for the potential that Booker brings to the offense.

Watching game film, the first thing that jumps out at you is the pure athleticism that Booker possesses. He is very quick and has an excellent burst of speed, displays elusiveness when directing through blocks and tackles, and shows toughness by fighting for every last yard he can get. He does an excellent job blocking on pass plays, picks up the blitz well and looks like he knows what he's doing on the field. Booker uses good natural instincts and is constantly showing great change of direction and cutback abilities. His biggest question mark is his size and durability. He is a small RB that lacks playing strength to break tackles and has a series of injuries in his career that could be an issue. He needs to learn to wait for plays and his blocking to develop as often times he will hit the hole too quickly, negating potential opportunities.

What are some of the factors that will lead Booker to having a breakout year in 2008?

1) Philly Offense Lorenzo Booker is a 'clone' of starting RB Brian Westbrook, a fellow small back that possesses speed and excellent hands. While Booker will have to fight for playing time, also with RB Cornell Buckhalter, if/when he does get an opportunity he will fit in well with how the Eagles use Westbrook. Expect to see some 3rd down situations and at least 4-5 plays a game where Booker will make a big play for the team.

2) YAC 'Yards After Catch'; with the Eagles questionable at the WR position, expect Booker to be a huge option out of the back field and in slot situations. He has great hands and will get a lot of catches in this offense, much like Westbrook. Booker has already impressed Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg this spring in Mini-Camp and OTAs, opting to create more plays to utilize his speed and various talents.

Fantasy outlook: Booker is a great insurance pick for owners that have Westbrook. If something happens to the Pro Bowl RB, expect Booker to make an immediate impact in the offense, even over Buckhalter. Overall, he is a late round fantasy pick or wavier wire selection, but is posed for a breakout year in Philly if given the chance.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Booker is the kind of third-down back you want, a scatterbug with desire and great hands. He is great to watch.

Only real questions are, as you said, how many touches he gets and does he take that high-speed injury hit.

Phins fans kept asking why -- despite reports of missed tackles left and right in practice -- he never hit the field last year, even after R. Brown was injured. Eventually Cameron pretty much had no choice, and the kid showed that he should have been there all along.

Reported reason for the trade is that Sparano/Parcells like big grind'em out runners and back-ups who can also play special teams. No reason to doubt that. Booker's got about as good an attitutde as you could wish for.

Wish we'd kept him, but I guess the math this year in Miami will be 3 1/3 X 3 = three more downs.

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