Name: Budda Baker
Position fit: Safety with the ability to play in the slot
Stats to know: Second-highest tackling efficiency of all Pac-12 safeties when defending the run.
What he does best:
- Defeats blocks well while attacking the line of scrimmage whether it be on jet sweeps or screen passes and tackles well around the line of scrimmage.
- Solid when playing zone underneath coverage in the slot, gets good depth, makes plays on the ball well and when a pass is thrown in front of him he breaks on it strong to try to make a tackle.
- Attacks blockers as a blitzer. Picked up two sacks, two QB hits and five hurries on 27 rushes last season.
- Tacking in open space: often tries to makes tackles while moving at full speed and doesn’t break in feet down and lunges at the player’s feet. Especially an issue when playing farther back early in 2016 and in 2015 and those missed tackles and over pursues turned into huge gains for the offense.
- Size looks to be a factor if he is to be matched up with tight ends at the NFL level, just does not have the frame to compete with bigger guys in man coverage.
- Does not have the size to be a Mark Barron-like nickel LB in NFL.
- While he’s strong working downhill in coverage, he can get off-balance on deeper routes and give up some big plays.
Player comparison: Tyrann Mathieu, Arizona Cardinals
From a pure style standpoint, Baker looks a lot like Mathieu, who does his best work as a block-beating slot corner who dabbles at safety in base personnel. Baker can fill a similar role in the NFL.
Bottom line: 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.