Budda Baker, FS
School: Washington | Conference: PAC-12
College Experience: Junior | Age: 21
Height / Weight: 5-10 / 192 lbs
Projected Draft Status: 2nd or 3rd Round
NFL Comparison: Tyrann Mathieu
Budda Baker was a track athlete, safety, running back, and return specialist in high school. He is a native of Bellevue, Washington. His freshman year at the University of Washington he was just 167 pounds. The argument of him being undersized will continue to factor into some evaluations all the way up until draft night. Baker has worked hark to bulk up to his current 192-pound size, undoubtedly he will be expected to put on just a few more pounds for some NFL teams. From the moment you press play on Baker’s tape you can see that despite not having the “ideal” frame and size of an NFL defensive back he plays with great focus, intensity, and effort.
- Tough and intense player. Likes to come up and tackle and get aggressive off the blitz.
- Excellent tackler. He will fight through people to get to the ball carrier. Generally takes good angles in pursuit and attacks the core or legs rarely tackling high or missing.
- Has good instincts for the position. He will be in the right place at the right time or will fight like hell to get there.
- Athletically sound. Has the quickness fluidity and speed to cover deep and cover well in general and has the passes defended stats to back him up. Has the vision to find the ball in the air and make a play.
- Lacks the true nature of a “Honey Badger”. I’m not seeing the relentless effort in breaking up passes or ripping at the ball when making a tackle.
- Lacks ideal size for the position specifically height and doesn’t seem to have the leaping ability to make up for it.
- Lacks sticky hands, has dropped both easy and difficult interceptions that should have been made.
Let’s see his work:
I need to do more work on all of them, but feel pretty confident that Budda Baker, Malik Hooker and Jamal Adams are all top 15 talents.— Jon Ledyard (@LedyardNFLDraft) January 2, 2017
Finished Budda Baker's game tape tonight. Lack of size and discipline often show, but love his energy and play speed. Fun player to study.— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) January 12, 2017
Budda Baker: The mini-Badger. Closer to his ceiling already. Think Darian Stewart. That's a really good NFL player.— Shane Alexander (@Alexander1Great) January 4, 2017
@UW_Football Keeps putting out talent. A lot of talk about safeties. Quietly Budda Baker has made his mark behind Sidney Jones, Kevin King.— TURRON DAVENPORT (@TDavenport_NFL) January 12, 2017
Budda Baker is twitchy and has great change of direction along with speed. Despite playing bigger than size, size still an issue.— Paul Conner (@P_ConnerJr) January 11, 2017
Ups 5.0 Budda Baker pic.twitter.com/kCsyHwmymj— Los Cachorros NCAAF (@CachorrosNCAAF) December 20, 2016
If there is a Honey Badger comp in this draft class, Budda Baker is the guy. https://t.co/qTr1ffWkgR— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) December 3, 2016
Great look at the quickness and route anticipation of Budda Baker at nickel. https://t.co/gG6pIWIj4x— Rob Rang (@RobRang) December 3, 2016
Budda Baker being aggressive, coming up to get the TFL. Going to hear a lot about him being undersized but he can freaking play pic.twitter.com/foL1zwX36g— Ty Wurth (@WurthDraft) November 16, 2016
How He Would Fit On The Redskins
If I wanted to be funny with the player comparison I would have written “Poor Man’s Tyrann Mathieu”. Baker is talented but I can’t help but feel the honey badger comparisons are a bit rich.
I think about his strengths and there are some definite similarities. Baker is a football player, it shows in his attitude and passion on the field. He’s feisty, scrappy, and fights to get into position and be in the right place at the right time. He’s willing to tackle and is very good at it. That's something the Redskins need at the position. He is effective when asked to blitz often affecting the QB if not physically then mentally. He has the range to cover the field and is a quick player that shows instinctual knowledge for the play/position.
That is where the similarities end in my view. What Baker lacks that Mathieu has is quite frankly better athletic ability or that is my perception given the success Mathieu has had his whole career. Mathieu has the leaping ability to challenge and pester bigger NFL receivers. He (Baker) lacks the consistency to create turnovers, Baker needs to improve his hands. He has had several opportunities to intercept the football and couldn't come down with it, let's not forget Tyrann Mathieu was a Bednarik award winner.
Despite all of those things, Baker would be an upgrade to the Redskins FS position. For coaches and staff it is a question of “How quick can we get this guy ready to be a starter?”, “Is his size and lack of elite athletic ability going to be a consistent issue?”, “Is he closer to his ceiling or his floor?”. As with most college prospect’s consistency is always the big question. If Baker starts ripping at the ball like Mathieu does that will be a huge upgrade. If he improves his mass and stoutness just a bit as to not get blown up by bigger blockers that will be a huge upgrade. If he learns to catch the football consistency he’ll be a pro-bowler.
With coaching and mentorship, Baker can be a starting FS in the NFL and a damn good one, the question is are the Redskins the team to go on the journey with him.