Well, it is that time of year I guess! With the Steelers now eliminated from the playoffs and solely focused on the offseason, it is time to take a deep dive into prospects they can target. I will be doing this for a number of prospects throughout this process, and the first one I will be doing is Georgia CB DeAndre Baker.
Measurements and Production
Weight: 185 lbs
Projected 40: 4.53
Data: SportsReference.com, The Draft Network
DeAndre Baker has not given up a Touchdown in over two years. To say the least, that is extremely impressive and perhaps a testament to how good Baker really is in retrospect of this entire class.
What stands out about Baker’s game is nothing more than ability to be aggressive and aware at the same time. This kid is an incredibly smart player and he plays with an aggressiveness that is infectious to all the DBs around him.
If you want to see what I mean by that, you really have to look no further than here.
I can hear @Coach_mtucker now.... “STRIIIIIIIIIIKEEEE” @RIP_Shod23 #SMACKDOWNSUNDAY pic.twitter.com/ndnVDzFnyQ— Glenn Schumann (@CoachSchuUGA) September 16, 2018
This is one of trickery reverses, and a normal player would just try to chase the guy down from the opposite side of the field, but Baker is a high IQ player and aware. By staying at home and alert, he cuts off the intended pitch back design of this entire play. Trick plays simply do not fool Baker and whew does he ever come screaming down with a full head of steam.
That isn’t atypical of Baker either, it is extremely common to see his aggressive demeanor translate over into run defense and press coverage. He can be overaggressive at times, yes, but as any good coach will tell you, it is easier to coach aggressiveness out of a player a little than to coach into them.
#Dawgs Game-changing INT by UGA CB Deandre Baker!— GATA Dawgs (@BassinDawg) November 6, 2016
#GoDawgs #BeatTheBarn pic.twitter.com/1ga6IpPMUh
Yeah, I know, this play is from two years ago, but if this doesn’t illustrate just how alert Baker is and how good he is at it, then I don’t know. Obviously, he got burnt, and I haven’t seen that happen in a darn long time, but to recover in that manner should give any football fan a ton of hope while watching the tape.
DeAndre Baker is a damn good CB too. I have him just outside my Top 5, but I don’t doubt that he could slip in there as my rankings evolve. He’s just so solid, sticky as hell, and straight up feisty. This dude is gonna be a good NFL CB. #DraftTwitter pic.twitter.com/DGTxVW4lgn— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) December 22, 2018
Watch him at the top of left of this screen here. Beautiful job to keep his hips facing outward so the receiver cannot stack him in anyway, and to use his hands to maintain leverage there. Baker is a fantastic press-man cornerback and I don’t expect that to change anytime soon. He is physical and makes plays on the ball all the time. Ball skills are always needed when you are a CB, and the Steelers are missing them. Baker would give them that, so please give us mercy there.
DeAndre Baker is a problem man. This dude knows how to play CB down to every nuance of the position. He is so polished, and he can be tight in the hips, but his processing is so damn good he can make up for that. Never really see him get burnt. He is legit. #DraftTwitter pic.twitter.com/Y130Hb2ZWA— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) December 31, 2018
Yeah, this is an impressive play. He processes this play so well that his tight hips, which are issue become a nonissue here. Fantastic play to jump on this and then make a play on the ball, and he really does just mirror it perfectly. Having such a technically sound and smart player like Baker does wonders for a team, especially when he is a natural leader too.
Baker is not a good athlete at all. He really is average and his speed is a big concern. Against the faster receivers in the NFL he will have to press them or risk getting completely dusted. It is not like that happened all that much on his Georgia tape, because he is fantastic with his hands, but it is something to watch. He is a bit stiff in his hips, so he is not fluid when he changing directions, but with how good of a processor he is, there isn’t too much worry. The last big thing is over aggressiveness. He can get far too feisty and get ripped past for a big gain. Again, not a common occurrence, but at the next level, it is something to monitor.
Fit with the Steelers
Baker can play in the Nickel or at the outside spot, but with the Steelers, he will absolutely be opposite of Joe Haden. With the Steelers loving Cover 3, Tampa 2, and Cover 2, but starting to really put press in more, Baker finds it a more natural fit. Despite the tight hip issues and the lack of zone he ran at Georgia, Baker has the elite processing needed for zone, and being an excellent communicator, he will fix secondary issues as well with his high IQ play. In other words, I would call Baker an idea fit.
Will the Steelers be able to get Baker? It depends. If Byron Murphy declares, the answer is probably yes, and it would be a fantastic pick at that. If not, the waters become much more murky, but when he can be this good and fits your team this well, do you trade up for him? The answer is likely an emphatic yes. Regardless, I would love to see the Steelers go out and grab DeAndre Baker to be the future of the secondary.