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Washington Safety Budda Baker deserves better than size narratives

SEP 24 Washington at Arizona
Photo by Carlos Herrera/Icon Sportswire

Scouting Notes

Washington Safety Budda Baker deserves better than size narratives

“He’s too small.” … “His frame can’t withstand the rigors of playing in the NFL.” I’ve heard a lot of sentiments made about Washington’s Swiss army knife, Budda Baker, and how his ability to play at a high level is going to compromised. Don’t take the cheese. Baker is one of the most versatile defenders in the enter class and brings with him a skill set athletically that can fill a lot of roles in the secondary.

Baker lacks the pure range of Ohio State’s Malik Hooker, the man to man coverage experience of Alabama’s Eddie Jackson and the length and power of Connecticut’s Obi Melifonwu but make no mistake: he can cover a blend of all those responsibilities better than any of them. Baker, who checks in at 5095 (Five feet, nine and five eighth inches) and 195 pounds, is fully capable of working in the slot as a man defender, filling in the box as a run support player or diagnosing plays in the secondary and creating splash plays.

For your consideration, a case for Budda Baker in five plays:


Where to start? Tackling in the secondary is paramount. Especially in the red zone. So seeing Baker play in a two high look, honor the backfield read and then transition into the flat to close on a throw move the needle. This is a really impressive illustration of two things: his linear burst and tackling awareness. To close down from the goal line and challenge a swing pass on the six yard line is a testament to his range.

But to understand he’s going against a Tight End and cut low is an underrated bit of the play. Plus, Baker’s angle and challenge of the ball show understanding that he’s got a teammate with outside leverage if the ball bounces. Baker can afford to take on this tackle with aggression and that’s exactly what he does.


Can Baker influence in traffic? He’s “small”, after all. If you want him squaring up pulling Guards, I think you’ll be sorely disappointed with just about every Safety in the league. This, however, shows off some nice hand work to play off a body and patience to not declare in a running lane too early. Plus another clean finish in space.

This is Baker’s signature play. There’s rapid mental processing, redirection skills and lateral quickness, short area acceleration and as fine an open field tackle as you’ll ever lay eyes on. This is a player you can trust in space to take good angles, be aggressive and trust his keys and *FINISH*.

Baker’s highlights thus far have been a lot of rally plays. He’s a plus defender in run support and filling into the line of scrimmage but how does he play with his back to the ball? Turns out he does well for himself here, too. Baker has patience and doesn’t bail in off coverage. He shows confidence in his feet and range to play the break.

There’s a strong effort to re-direct/filter the route based on the coverage leverage (Defenders want to carry vertical routes into the sideline to cut down on angles and gain an extra “defender” in the boundary). And then of course there’s how quickly Baker gets up to top speed after flipping his hips to carry the route and stay in phase.

Are we sure this guy is “too small”?  Baker tosses Trojan RB Justin Davis aside on a well timed blitz from the slot and forces a poor throw from everyone’s new favorite Quarterback, Sam Darnold; resulting in an interception. Baker’s film is littered with examples of each of these style of plays; don’t be so quick to write him off because he doesn’t fit the traditional size mold.

Kyle Crabbs

Kyle Crabbs is the founder/Director of Scouting of NDT Scouting Services, a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and the lead NFL Draft analyst for the FanRag Sports Network.

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