The Chicago Bears make a huge splash with Austin Booker

We thought the Chicago Bears draft came to a close when they selected Iowa punter Tory Taylor at 122, but Ryan Poles traded back into the fifth round made a huge splash by selecting pass rush specialist Austin Booker.
Chicago Bears, Austin Booker
Chicago Bears, Austin Booker / Kevin Sabitus/GettyImages

Just when you thought the Chicago Bears were done with the 2024 NFL Draft, Ryan Poles comes back with a huge splash at the beginning of the fifth round by trading back into the draft for Kansas defensive end Austin Bookier. Heading into the draft, the Bears only had four picks, although three were within the top 75 and two were within the top 10. Many speculated Poles would look to trade down from either nine or 75 to acquire more draft capital.

That was not the case. In fact, after the Bears walked away with Caleb Williams, Rome Odunze and Karin Amegadjie, the team only had pick 122 left -- the pick they received from the Eagles when trading down from nine last year. Before today, I mentioned a few names I thought Ryan Poles should consider trading up for on Day 3. My thoughts were more that they might have to move up from 122 to grab these guys. Instead, the Bears stood their ground at 122 and selected Iowa punter Tory Taylor. Well, Austin Booker was one of the targets I discussed.

The Chicago Bears trade back into the fifth round for Austin Booker

Poles and Matt Eberflus have talked about needing help on the defensive line. There is speculation they wanted Bralen Trice, the defensive end out of Washington at 75. However, the Falcons took him at 74 and the team pivoted to Amegadjie. I wanted someone in the trenches on either side of the ball so I'm perfectly fine with the OT out of Yale at 75.

Moving up into this draft cost the Chicago Bears their 2025 fourth-rounder. What's funny is they sent their 2025 fourth-round pick to the Bills for pick 144. Pick 144 was the fifth-round draft pick they sent to Buffalo for Ryan Bates. Poles gets his pick back, keeps Bates, and sends a future pick to Buffalo. That's some great compensation, to be honest -- even if Bates only ends up being quality depth.

Landing Austin Booker in the fifth round was a great move by Poles though. I had a fourth-round grade on him. The Chicago Bears needed help both on the inside and outside of the defensive line. I thought the outside of the line needed more help than the inside, and Austin Booker brings that to the table. He's a true pass rusher with a great burst off the ball. He could use some extra bulk as long as he doesn't lose his speed and I don't think that will be a problem since he's very raw. Getting into an NFL training facility should help him add the muscle mass he needs to his frame.

Many thought Booker should stay at Kansas or look to transfer -- playing one more year at the NCAAF level. Booker bet on himself and entered the draft after a breakout season totaling 9 sacks. He only played 3 games in 2022 but really proved himself at this year's senior bowl. Booker received an 82.2 grade from Pro Football Focus for his 2023 season. Despite a poor RAS score of 7,72, Booker is athletic. His 4.79 40 time hurts, but I don't need my defensive ends running 40 yards. His weight of 240 pounds also hurt his score but I think he could develop nicely as a pass-rush specialist.

What might be the best part about Booker's game is his non-stop motor. He hardly ever gives up on a play and I think Matt Eberflus will appreaciate that. Don't expect to see Booker receiving any loafs.


  • Explosive off the ball
  • Overall length and wingspan
  • Uses his speed to get both inside and outside of OTs
  • Above-average bend on the edge
  • Very high motor - never quits


  • Raw, very inexperienced
  • Needs to expand on his countermoves
  • Hand fighting is below average
  • Can be swallowed up setting the edge / gets too high and loses leverage