A three-year starter at Washington, Baker played primarily as a single-high safety and in the slot as a nickel cover man for the Huskies and was an emotional trigger to the resurgence of the Washington program. He originally committed to Oregon, but re-opened his commitment and signed with Washington on signing day.
Baker earned a starting safety role as a true freshman and posted 80 tackles, seven passes defended and his first career interception, earning Freshman All-American and Pac-12 Honorable Mention honors. He started 12 games as a sophomore in 2015 and recorded 49 tackles, nine passes defended and two interceptions, earning First Team All-Pac 12 honors. Baker led the Huskies in tackles as a senior (71) with 10.0 tackles for loss, eight passes defended and two interceptions to earn consensus All-American and first-team All-Pac 12 honors.
Baker is undersized and will make his share of mistakes due to overaggressive tendencies, but he competes with excellent reaction quickness and range to make plays all over the field. He is ideally suited for a hybrid cornerback/safety role in the NFL, doing his best work as a nickel defender.
STRENGTHS: Rangy athlete with the instant accelerator to cover a lot of green -- state champion sprinter in high school. Twitchy reflexes to stay in phase in man coverage, showing suddenness when flipping his hips and changing directions. Instinctive and quick to click-and-close on plays in front of him. Secondary burst to recover in coverage or chase down ballcarriers. Plays with a "my ball" mentality, always looking for the turnover. Good timing and burst as a blitzer to create violent collisions. Physical tackler, staying low and driving his feet as a tackler. Understands pursuit angles and field leverage to find the quickest path to the ball, avoiding blocks. Plays with a little bit of crazy to him and teammates feed off his energy. Earned All-Conference Academic honors twice and stays focused on and off the field. Undersized, but boasts trademark toughness ("He's one of the toughest guys I've ever been around." -- Huskies defensive backs coach Jimmy Lake). Productive three-year starter with 200 tackles and 24 passes defended.
WEAKNESSES: Undersized and lacks the body type to comfortably carry 200 pounds. Lack of ideal height/length shows in coverage and as a tackler, gaining body position, but missing valuable inches. Wild break down skills dent his batting average as a tackler. Overaggressive angles and needs to be more consistent with his high-to-low finishing skills. Struggles to shed once engulfed by blockers. Needs to better anticipate in coverage to stay off his heels and eliminate spacing at the top of routes. Doesn't have a large catch radius with several dropped interceptions on his film. Lack of size leads to durability concerns, missing one game as a sophomore due to a sprained left ankle (Sept. 2015) -- also left the Utah game due to a concussion (Nov. 2015).
NFL COMPARISON -- Tyrann Mathieu, Arizona Cardinals: Baker isn't quote on the same level as Mathieu, but he is cut from a similar cloth with the honey badger mentality to be a playmaker.
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