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Devontae Booker: Steady and Underutilized

Devontae Booker was a very underutilized player for the Giants in 2021. I don’t think most fans knew what to expect when Dave Gettleman signed the running back when free agency started. What I can say is…when you break down the numbers you might be surprised.

When you watch the tape, you find a player that’s fun to watch, who’s not afraid to grind, is patient and has a great first step. He could have delivered more success if he had been incorporated into the game plan a bit more.

The Utah running back was drafted in the 4th round in 2016 by the Denver Broncos. He had a nice rookie year despite a very crowded running back room: CJ Anderson, Kapri Bibbs, and Justin Forsett.

Stats

Denver 2016 – 174 attempts | 612 rushing | 4 TDs | 877 All-purpose yards

Booker, who reminds me of former Giants running back Derrick Ward, had his 2nd most productive season since his rookie year and when we look at the numbers, it does bring up the question of why he didn’t see more opportunities. Blocking, an Offensive Coordinator change and a healthy Saquon Barkley are all viable answers.

Giants 2021 – 145 attempts | 593 yards | 2 TDs | 861 All-purpose yards

1st Downs

Booker produced almost half (42) of all rushing 1st downs (90) on 145 attempts, which is 35% of the 419 rushing plays.

Over the years the Giants have had some great success splitting up the carries between featured backs. Ottis Anderson Joe Morris and Rodney Hampton shared a backfield at different times. Bradshaw, Jacobs, and Ward, better known as Earth, Wind, and Fire were a ton to handle for opponents playing against those smash-mouth Giants teams.

Production

While the offensive line for the Giants struggled to stay healthy and find continuity, Booker seemed to be having success as his carries increased. He was gaining momentum, hitting the holes hard, and taking a straight-line approach with a quick burst. His patience should also be commended. Over a four-game stretch (Oct. 17th – Nov. 7th) the 219 lbs back had 62 attempts for 252 yards.

His best game coming against his old team The Las Vegas Raiders – 21 attempts | 99 yards | 23 receiving

  • 12 rushes – Oct. 17th
  • 14 rushes – Oct. 24th
  • 15 rushes – Nov. 11th
  • 21 rushes – Nov. 7th

Over the next six games and with a healthy Saquon Barkley, Booker only received 34 rushing attempts.

  • 3 rushes
  • 3 rushes
  • 6 rushes
  • 8 rushes
  • 8 rushes
  • 6 rushes

Saquon Barkley is still the featured back and the game-breaker the Giants depend on, however, one might ask about additional ways to get Booker more involved. Even allowing Booker to increase rushing attempts and increasing Barkley’s touches in space via the pass/screen strategies.

2021 is in the rearview mirror and 2022 will bring a new offense. Hopefully, the numbers speak for themselves and Booker sees additional touches.