Kansas Jayhawks have second football player selected in 2024 NFL Draft by Chicago Bears

Chicago got a steal with its fifth-round draft selection
Feb 29, 2024; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Kansas defensive lineman Austin Booker (DL28) works out
Feb 29, 2024; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Kansas defensive lineman Austin Booker (DL28) works out / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas football program produced some excellent talent this season, with OL Dominick Puni going off the board during the third round of the 2024 NFL Draft. While it took longer than some might have anticipated, another former Jayhawk heard his name called at the podium during the draft.

EDGE Austin Booker was taken 144th overall as the ninth pick of the fifth round by the Chicago Bears. GM Ryan Poles bolstered his tremendous draft class consisting of QB Caleb Williams and WR Rome Odunze with an under-the-radar defensive pick that could prove to be vital for the Bears in the long term.

Kansas football EDGE Austin Booker goes 144th overall to Bears

After spending two years at Minnesota, Booker broke out in a huge way with the Jayhawks in 2023. HC Lance Leipold recruited him as soon as he entered the transfer portal and gave him the opportunity he needed. As it turns out, the 6-foot-6 prospect just needed a chance to showcase his skill set.

In his first full season of reps, Booker recorded eight sacks, 12 tackles for loss, 56 total tackles, and two forced fumbles while earning First Team All-Big 12 honors and winning Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year. He was the top-edge rusher on KU's defense and wreaked havoc in backfields all season long.

Chicago traded its fourth-round pick in next year's draft to the Buffalo Bills to land the 144th selection. While the Bears technically traded down one round, they clearly feel confident in Booker and his ability to transform into a key player for years to come.

Here is the scouting report NFL Draft analyst Steve Muench gave Booker before the draft.

"Booker started only one game in college and didn't test as well as expected at the combine, but there are impressive flashes on tape. His length is one of his greatest assets, and it makes it tough for offensive linemen to get into his frame. As a pass-rusher, he shows explosive knock-back power and is smooth working inside when offensive linemen get caught on their heels. He doesn't have elite bend or burst but occasionally wins with speed off the edge. Booker has active hands and the ability to slip blocks, and he chases with good effort as a run-defender. He's lean but can shoot his hands and stack bigger blockers."

Steve Muench

While the Indiana native did himself no favors during the Scouting Combine — his 53 athleticism score is well below average — he has the physical tools to become a star player in the future. Booker joined Puni as one of the two former Kansas football players to be selected in this year's draft. He is the 12th player from KU since 2010 to be drafted.