Arizona Cardinals trade up to select S Budda Baker in second round of NFL Draft
The Arizona Cardinals did not want to wait around to see if Washington safety Budda Baker would stay on the board for their second-round selection at No. 45.
The No. 36 overall pick Baker, a 5-foot-10, 195-pound safety, is Arizona’s second selection of the 2017 NFL Draft after taking linebacker Haason Reddick 13th overall on Thursday.
Baker, real first name Bishard, was first-team all-conference in the Pac-12 in 2015 and 2016. In his junior season, Baker led the Huskies in tackles with 71. He also had 10 tackles for loss, two interceptions and six passes broken up.
The 21-year-old is known for his speed. He was a state high school 100-meter champion while also being a three-time state champion in football. He ran a 4.45 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, ranking fourth among all safeties that tested.
Baker joins Pro Bowlers Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu in the Cardinals secondary.
Veteran safety Antoine Bethea was brought in as a free-agent addition to supplement the loss of safeties Tony Jefferson and D.J. Swearinger. The team also lost cornerback Marcus Cooper.
Like Reddick, Baker is a multi-dimensional defender the Cardinals will assumedly use in a variety of ways.
Pro Football Focus is troubled by Baker’s small size having an impact on his versatility in their scouting report.
Baker seems best fit in a role close to the line of scrimmage in nickel defenses when he can attack the LOS, but is more worrisome the farther he gets played back in coverage because his tackling in open space is poor. He works well when moving downhill as he closes quickly on the ball, making him effective as a short zone player or perhaps as a quarters safety, but his size can also be an issue if forced to match up with bigger slot receivers or tight ends when deployed close to the line of scrimmage.
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