Having to follow the likes of quarterbacks Carson Palmer (Cincinnati Bengals) and Matt Leinart (Arizona Cardinals) at the University of Southern California, quarterback John David Booty certainly had some gigantic shoes to fill after taking the reins in 2006. He did a nice job in his first season as a starter, playing in all 13 games while leading the Trojans to an 11-2 mark. He completed 61.7 percent of his passes while throwing for 3,347 yards and 29 touchdowns against just nine interceptions. Booty was a unanimous All-Pac-10 Conference first-team selection in '06 and was a finalist for the Manning Award - given annually to the nation's top quarterback.
Booty's senior season began amid Heisman Trophy hype as he looked to follow in the footsteps of former winners Palmer and Leinart, but all of that went out the window when he tossed four interceptions in an upset loss to Stanford. Booty broke the middle finger on his throwing hand in the same game. Booty would miss the next three weeks and didn't play very well in his first two games back. He found his stride against No. 7 Arizona State in late November, throwing for 375 yards and four touchdowns in a win that put the Trojans in the driver's seat for a trip to the Rose Bowl. He would throw for 255 yards and three scores in a 49-17 romp over Illinois in "The Granddaddy of Them All" to put a stamp on his career at USC. He now looks to take the next step as an expected second-day selection in the upcoming 2008 NFL Draft.
Booty is classic pocket passer, at his best when he can drop back and throw quickly in rhythm. He has excellent touch, excelling on timing routes, particularly those of the short and intermediate variety. He is a student of the game and already possesses a good understanding of the West Coast offense. Booty also does a good job of making pre-snap reads and can identify coverage as he drops back, which helps him make intelligent decisions with the football.
A decent scrambler, Booty is an accurate passer on the move. He has also displayed elusiveness within the pocket, buying team without rolling to the outside. When the blitz is coming Booty does a good job of getting rid of the ball and is adept at finding receivers on hot routes or quickly checking down to secondary targets. He works the middle of the field exceptionally well.
His take-charge demeanor serves Booty well in the huddle and helps make him be a natural leader that players respect.
Any list of Booty's shortcomings has to begin with durability as the 23-year-old endured injuries in four of his five years at USC. He sustained a fractured left wrist as a freshman in 2003 and missed the team's final two games. He was granted a medical hardship the following year after suffering a badly bruised right elbow in fall drills. Booty then underwent back surgery to correct a herniated disc before the 2006 season. Finally, as previously noted, a fractured middle finger sidelined him for three games in 2007.
Despite decent height, Booty (6-foot-2 3/8, 218 pounds) could use to pack on some additional muscle to withstand the pounding at the next level - especially considering the issues he has already had with injuries. He lacks the speed to make positive yardage scrambling and can be caught from behind by pass rushers. He is much more effective on designed rollouts than when he is forced to adlib. His arm strength has also been called into question as his deep ball lacks velocity, and his accuracy is inconsistent down the field.
Expected Draft Placement
Booty is among the top half-dozen or so quarterback prospects this year, but in a draft that is considered to be weak at the position that ranking doesn't figure to see him come off the draft board until the third or fourth round. His familiarity with the West Coast offense could make him a solid selection for the Green Bay Packers, a team that figures to be in the market for a No. 3 quarterback following the retirement of quarterback Brett Favre. He could also draw interest from the Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Kansas City Chiefs or Carolina Panthers, among others. Some question his ceiling, but many believe he has the tools as well as work ethic to carve out a solid career in the NFL and is capable of developing into a starter down the road.
About Herija C. Green
A graduate of the prestigious Top Gun school, Green's ego writes checks his body can't cash. When he's not overdrawing his ego's bank account, Green enjoys games of beach volleyball, riding his Kawasaki Ninja motorcycle, and buzzing the tower (whether the pattern is full or not). He resides in the Danger Zone and yes, Ice... Man, he is dangerous. He also writes.
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