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Kansas Jayhawks Defensive Lineman Austin Booker Declares for the 2024 NFL Draft

The Jayhawks officially lost a key piece to their defense yesterday. Kansas EDGE, Austin Booker has officially put his name in the ring for the 2024 NFL Draft. Booker had originally transferred from Minnesota, where in his one year there he had recorded just 2 tackles. Booker took a major step up though when he came to Lawrence, where he recorded a whopping 56 total tackles, 8 sacks (3rd in the Big 12 in 2023), and 2 forced fumbles. He won Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year and earned All-Conference honors. Now, he has decided to take his career to the next level and forgo his junior and senior year by entering the 2024 NFL Draft. Early projections have him in the later rounds, either a Day 2 or Day 3 pick.

What Booker's Departure Means to the Jayhawks

The Jayhawks will need to look to either Youngstown State transfer Dylan Wudke, Auburn transfer Dylan Brooks, either of their two Top 25 in the 2024 class EDGEs DJ Warner and Dakyus Brinkley or senior lineman Jereme Robinson, who played in the interior this year mostly, to step up and fill the spot. This also comes after the EDGE who played the other end of the defensive line, Gage Keys, entered the transfer portal and committed to Auburn. They came as a package deal when they came to Kansas from Minnesota. The Jayhawks had one of the better pass rushes in the conference with these two bookending the defensive line, and now they will have to find that spark again with who they have as well as who they have coming in. Having the incoming freshman talent in Warner and Brinkley will certainly help, and the position has a lot of depth, so it will likely not be an issue for the Jayhawks.

Did Austin Booker Leave too Early?

What will be an issue, at least to a lot of Jayhawk faithful, is the position Booker gets drafted. While a lot of Jayhawk nation is happy Booker didn't transfer at least, many are questioning his decision to go drafting just two years into his college career. He was hitting his stride in college, and while he's very lengthy and quick, his size comes into question, being on the lighter side of EDGEs at 245 lbs. If he were to bulk up and perhaps have a more established career in college, his draft stock could certainly rise to even becoming a Day 1 pick.

Nonetheless, the Jayhawk faithful wish the best for a guy who helped them immensely this 2023 season, being a defensive leader and pass-rush phenom. He etches his name into the list of great Jayhawk defensive linemen who have come through the program over the last few years, and hopefully set the precedent for Jayhawk defensive linemen to come.


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