By Jack Drapkin
Here’s the thing about Budda Baker, if you saw him standing on the street you would walk right past him. At 5’10” 180lbs, Baker is not the size you are accustomed to seeing out of NFL players. Don’t let this fool you, it will be a grave mistake.
What Baker lacks in size, he makes up for with speed, intelligence and confidence.
Speed. Baker won’t run the fastest 40 yard dash at the combine but he sure flies around the field. With quick feet he is able to not only play from his usual safety perch but also come up to the line of scrimmage and play in the slot. This versatility makes him extremely valuable in a league where teams are now in the nickel at least 60% of the time.
His speed continues to be important when you discuss his closing speed. He is usually on top of ball carriers and potential pass-catchers, before they even know what hit them. This is a special trait that you do not find in many college football players.
Intelligence. Baker as the center fielder of the defense, needs to be in the right place at the right time more often than not. He shows a great ability to diagnose plays and is constantly around the ball. He knows his own limitations with his size, so he is always tackling with some momentum and is a good open field tackler to boot.
Confidence. Budda Baker is decivise. The key about playing in the NFL is that the game is so fast you don’t have time to be deciding what to do. You need to have that decision already made by diagnosing the play in front of you. Baker does a great of making a decision and immediately reacting to the football.
In short don’t expect Budda Baker to blow up the NFL Combine, but do expect him to blow up opposing teams plays on Sundays this fall.