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Marino | Jerome Baker is next great Buckeyes linebacker

NOV 05 Nebraska at Ohio State
Photo by Khris Hale/Icon Sportswire

Scouting Notes

Marino | Jerome Baker is next great Buckeyes linebacker

With the wide-open spread offenses that are predicated on spacing and creating mismatches, the demands on today’s NFL linebacker have never been greater. Today’s linebackers must be able to run, chase and cover to match up against the spacing and personnel today’s game presents.

Ohio State’s Jerome Baker has the skill set needed to win at linebacker in today’s NFL.

Baker became a full-time starter last year in his sophomore season for Ohio State, producing 86 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks and 2 interceptions en route to Honorable Mention All-Big Ten honors from the leagues coaches and media.

A four-star recruit out of Cleveland, Baker is one of my favorite players I have studied over the summer. Baker checks all the boxes I am looking for on the field from linebackers. Let’s examine what makes him so exciting entering his junior season.

Baker’s ability to diagnose plays rapidly and take tight angles to the football are instantly noticeable when watching his film. He plays fast, moves laterally with ease and is a consistent finisher.

Taking great angles to the football and filling windows are key components of playing on the second level. Baker combines his strong reactionary skills with explosive burst to get ahead of blocks and make plays. He has a natural feel for finding the football and anticipating flow.

The last two reps I shared were Baker filling windows without having to play through contact. He has no issues doing so. This rep is an outstanding example of a defense maintaining its run fits. Baker is a gap-savvy defender that is more than capable of beating blocks to make plays.

Baker is listed at 6-foot-1, 225 pounds but that doesn’t mean he isn’t physical. The secondary contain player on this rep, Baker takes on (destroys) the boundary block with proper leverage and forces the play back inside to the defensive pursuit.

Play recognition skills + burst + great angles + ability to finish = good linebacker. This stuff is routine and second nature for Baker.

Oh by the way, Baker is a force when dropping into coverage. His ability to process quickly and fluidly move enables him to work into throwing lanes and make plays. He has the speed to carry running backs and tight ends into space and work to any portion of the field.

Baker is an outstanding athlete. His burst, long speed, physicality, lateral movements skills and ability to elevate to compete for the football are special. He will be an exciting player to watch this season and he should be even better in his second season as a full-time starter.

I’ll be driving the Baker hype train this fall. Get on board.

His 2017 seasons is already off to a great start. Check out this ridiculous interception he made from the Ohio State spring game.

Joe Marino

Marino began his career as the Assistant Editor for USA Today Digital Properties Draft Sites Network in 2011. A member of the FWAA, Marino writes about the NFL, College Football and NFL Draft for FanRag Sports.

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