S Budda Baker, 5’10” 195 Washington
What He Does Well:
Exceptional athlete with good speed and explosiveness. Very sudden and deliberate in movements and change of directions. Above average instincts in coverage, reads quarterbacks well, not easily fooled by route fakes. Versatile defender, experienced as a safety, slot man and outside cornerback. Plays much bigger than his size would suggest, is not afraid to mix it up physically. Excels both in coverage and coming forward. An excellent blitzer and is more than willing to get involved in run support. Disciplined player not easily fooled by screens and reverses.
Where He Needs Work:
Size could limit him, likely just a deep safety in the NFL. Struggles to cover tall tight ends due to his height. Ball skills are suspect, several interception opportunities that he just missed on. Aggressiveness against run could lead can get him into to trouble at times. Is more of a hitter than a tackler. Undersized stature does not correlate well with his physical style, could break down in the NFL.
When I look at Budda Baker I see a lot of similarities to Cardinal defensive back Tyran Mathieu. He possesses the the same kind of athleticism, versatility and nose for the ball that has made the “Honey Badger” one of the NFL’s top defenders. While his size is a bit of a red flag you cannot discount Baker’s desire and intensity on the field. Baker is the kind of player that can find a fit on any defensive unit thanks to his versatility and will likely be a match up piece early on in his career before transitioning to a more permanent role as a deep coverage safety. Expect Baker to be selected in the mid-first round and if he can stay healthy to have a long productive career in the NFL.