Cornerbacks that are fast and fluid will always catch the eye of NFL scouts and General Managers and because of that Dicaprio Bootle is someone that we’ll have to keep an eye on throughout the season and into the draft process. With that in mind for this week’s scouting perspective I took a look at Dicaprio Bootle in his game against Northwestern to see how he performed in the eyes of the NFL Draft.
Below is an excerpt on Bootle from my Scouting the Huskers for the 2021 NFL Draft article before the season started.
“Dicaprio Bootle has shown over the past two seasons that he has the speed, burst and fluid hips to stick with receivers, especially down the field. When you add in that Bootle was 8th in the nation in passes defended in 2018, the ball production is there. The big concern about Bootle that will likely prevent him from going higher is his struggles in tackling.”
What Went Well
Throughout the Northwestern game Bootle continued to showcase his speed, quickness and change of direction. Bootle was able to quickly flip his hips and run with receivers in press coverage, while playing in zone he was able to showcase his change of direction ability when he bluffed on a blitz and then dropped back into zone.
Nebraska CB Dicaprio Bootle coming down to put a shoulder into the running back and help get the tackle pic.twitter.com/9w8sgqmKG7— Brian Johannes (@Draft_Brian) November 11, 2020
We already knew that Bootle was a good athlete, but what I wanted to see in this game was whether or not he has improved his tackling and physicality. Far too many times in the past Bootle has missed tackles and shied away from contact. Against Northwestern, Bootle was inviting contact as he was quick to come up the edge and lay a shoulder into the running back to help make the tackle. Later in the game Bootle was able to set the edge forcing the receiver to cut upfield on a reverse. Bootle did get taken out of a play by the tight end, but overall he showed much improvement.
Where he struggled
Bootle had a pretty quiet day as the receivers he was covering were only targeted twice, both being catches. The first catch was on a comeback route where Boolte was right in the hip pocket of the receiver coming back to the ball but just couldn’t get a hand in to break it up the pass.
Nebraska CB Dicaprio Bootle gets caught jumping inside and getting turned around on a key catch on third down pic.twitter.com/4JaqHwU3gY— Brian Johannes (@Draft_Brian) November 11, 2020
The second completion was a killer for the Huskers because it was on 3rd and 8 and the catch was for a first down with 4:18 to go in the game. Northwestern ended up punting later that drive but it was with 2:24 left forcing Nebraska to go the entire length of the field to try and tie the game. On that play Bootle bit hard on an inside fake and when the receiver broke back out it caused there to be a yard of separation. Already with outside leverage the receiver made his cut on the out route he was wide open for the first down.
Lack of good instincts against Northwestern was the biggest issue I took away from Bootle’s game. The best cornerbacks in the NFL are able to read what the receivers are going to do, allowing them to be in the right spot to make plays. Bootle jumping early on the receiver in the fourth quarter put him at a severe disadvantage. The same thing happened in the first half where Bootle made a mistake on a route and put himself in a bad spot pinned against the sideline, but luckily the ball didn’t come his way.
Overall Dicaprio Bootle’s stock didn’t change much from what I saw this summer to what it is now. His athletic traits are what is going to get him drafted. He did improve his tackling and toughness but his instincts are what is preventing him from challenging to be a day two pick. Because of those athletic traits and the versatility to play either outside, inside or even at safety to go along with his special teams coverage traits he’ll be taken somewhere on day three. Probably in the 5th round where he’ll be viewed as a potential depth player.