When the Denver Broncos selected Devontae Booker in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL Draft, they acquired a bell-cow running back many scouts and draftniks had rated as the second-best player at his position, behind only Ezekiel Elliott.
It was an incredible value. Even GM John Elway talked about how the Broncos had a second round grade on Booker and were shocked that he was still on the board at pick No. 136.
Why did he fall? His senior season at Utah was cut short by a knee injury and he was unable to perform any drills, other than the bench press, at the Scouting Combine.
But good things come to those who wait and now both Booker and the Broncos are in a position to reap the benefits from their patience. C.J. Anderson tore the meniscus in his right knee in Denver's Week 7 victory over Houston and has been placed on injured reserve.
http://www.scout.com/nfl/broncos/story/1722268-3-keys-to-victory-broncos... Anderson won't be available, in the best-case scenario, for eight weeks. The onus is now on Booker, and the Broncos embattled offensive line, to carry the load.
But being the bell-cow is a role Devontae Booker was born for. In his two seasons at Utah, he averaged five yards per carry, totaling 2,773 rushing yards. Throw in his receiving stats, and Booker finished his Division I collegiate career with 3,395 yards from scrimmage and 23 touchdowns.
His pro career got off to an ignominious start, as he lost a fumble on his first carry vs. Carolina. Since then, however, he's been excellent.
Over the last two games, Booker has averaged more than seven yards per carry and notched his first career touchdown. He's seeing the holes develop and has the burst to cut back and get downhill in a hurry.
What really sets Booker apart, however, is his physicality. We haven't seen such a punishing runner since perhaps Marshawn Lynch — and I say that in all seriousness.
Booker will finish his runs with authority and make his opponent pay for tackling him.
Losing Anderson hurts, but it's not the worst thing that could have happened. Fortunately, Elway's penchant for cultivating elite depth on the roster has provided the Broncos with yet another diamond in the rough on deck to be a true difference maker.
Chad Jensen is the Publisher of Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @ChadNJensen.
To get instant Broncos notifications, download the NEW Scout mobile app for iOS HERE!