The Giants surprised a lot of people with their first first-round pick of the 2019 NFL Draft. They surprised just as many people with their third first-round pick. Just the fact there was a third first-round pick was surprising enough.
That pick — Georgia cornerback Deandre Baker — might be the best player the Giants drafted in the first round. Last year, Baker allowed just 19 receptions on 43 targets (44.2 percent completion rate) and 4.1 yards per target, which was the fourth-best mark in this class. Baker spent most of his time in man coverage — 54.4 percent of his snaps — and allowed a positive play by Expected Points Added on just 33.1 percent of plays in man coverage and his 4.3 yards allowed per snap was third-best in this corner class. All stats courtesy of Sports Info Solutions.
With a need opposite Janoris Jenkins — and a potential future replacement for Jenkins needed — Baker projects to be an instant starter on the outside for the Giants.
The trade up to pick No. 30 made Baker the only cornerback taken in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft, an accolade he believes he deserves.
On his ability as a cornerback
“Yes sir,” he said when asked if he was the best cornerback in the draft. “Just by the production I put in, and the consistency throughout the years I played.”
“I can play outside or slot,” Baker said. “I can adapt to any situation. Wherever the team needs me to win that’s where I will go.”
Does Baker believe himself to be a shutdown corner? “Of course,” he said. “In college, I covered the opposing team’s number one receiver that’s how I got the term shutdown corner,” Baker said when asked what the term “shutdown corner” meant to him.
Baker also mentioned he remembers the last touchdown he gave up, a back-shoulder throw from the 1-yard line against TCU in a bowl game. “It was 2016, the only touchdown I gave up in my career.”
Sports Info Solutions charting confirms this. SIS has Baker with just one touchdown allowed over his three seasons in Georgia across 85 total targets.
On if he expected to be drafted by the Giants
“I met with them at the combine but that was my only meeting with them,” Baker said. “I didn’t know they were going to draft me, I’m just happy right now. I just kept faith, I kept praying. I knew somebody was going to give me a chance. The Giants called and they made my day.”
When Baker was asked what it was like to be in the green room at the end of the first round, he responded, “It was a dream come true. I knew one team would call me before the first round was over with. When the Giants traded back up [into the first round], I kind of had a feeling.”
On his relationship with fellow Bulldog Lorenzo Carter
“I know Lorenzo Carter is probably trying to call me right now,” Baker said. “I have a million calls at one time right now. I’m just waiting to call them when I finish everything. That’s my boy, ever since I stepped on campus at the University of Georgia. My first day on campus he took me under his wing. I played a couple years with him, that’s my boy.”
On his expectations for 2019
“I just want to come in and work,” Baker said. “Wherever I land at on the depth chart, I’m ready to work. Go out there and compete with the guys and hopefully get a chance to help my team.”