There is a legitimate argument to be made on what, exactly, was the strength of the New York Giants’ defense. The defensive front was impressively stout and frustrated running games all season long. On the other hand, while the secondary did give up yards, they largely held opponents’ top three options in check while allowing Steve Spagnuolo to call audacious blitzes.
And while the Giants would obviously like to add pieces to a sputtering offense, the strengths of the draft lay on the defensive side of the ball. It is entirely possible that the best option when their first or second pick rolls around is a defender. In that case, could the Giants look at one of the best safeties in the draft in Washington’s Budda Baker?
- Great instincts in coverage. Uses the sideline as another defender when in man coverage and breaks on the ball well in zone coverage.
- Attacks the ball at the catch point. Has at least five passes defensed in all three seasons.
- Rangy centerfielder, but is not afraid to come down and contribute in run defense.
- Capable blitzer. Saw his tackles for a loss and sacks both jump in 2017.
- Capable of playing in slot coverage on receivers.
- Active communicator in the defensive secondary.
- Impressive hustle. Will run the length of the field to make a tackle.
- Undersized. Could have issues tackling or staying healthy at the NFL level.
- Brings opponents down, but isn’t a “form tackler”.
- Doesn’t haul in many picks. Only five interceptions in three years at Washington.
Does He Fit With The Giants?
Baker would make for a nice complement to Landon Collins as a true free safety. He isn’t big, but he plays with a Jack Russell (terrier) type of energy and aggression that would appeal to Steve Spagnuolo.
However, the Giants already have two candidates for the starting free safety job in Andrew Adams and Darian Thompson. Thompson excited the Giants when on the field last year and is on the road to recovery, while Adams surprised with his play as an undrafted free agent.
Thompson’s recent injury history, an injured shoulder in training camp and a foot injury which ultimately cost him his rookie season, are worth considering, and the Giants’ troubles keeping defensive backs on the field could both weigh on the decision when to select a DB, or if they should at all.
Big Board Rankings
Big Blue View - 22nd overall
CBS Sports - 41st overall
Draft Countdown - 40th overall
Draft Tek - 33rd overall
As the old chestnut goes, “It’s not the size of the dog of the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” Teams and evaluators will overlook Budda Baker based solely on his size, but that would be a mistake in my eyes.
Many once discounted Earl Thomas coming out of college based solely on his size, preferring the big and fast Taylor Mays instead. While it would be reckless to compare Baker with one of the current greats at his position, it isn’t without merit either. Both share traits and characteristics like an aggressive game, range, fluidity, and top-notch instincts in coverage. They are also both effective safeties despite not having prototypical size.