NAME: Deandre Baker
JERSEY: No. 18
RECRUITMENT RATING: 3-star
WT: 180 lbs
PROS: Feisty and energetic in his play demeanor. Physical at the line of scrimmage. Despite not being the biggest corner, seems to have solid length. Experience playing in press, press-bail, off-man or zone. Mentally sharp and constantly alert in his area. Press coverage is a strength, typically in control at line of scrimmage and rides receivers off the snap with good technique. Physical down the field to avoid getting stacked. Does his job in the run game, turns things back inside as a perimeter defender. Experience playing both outside corner spots and the nickel.
CONS: Long speed is a major concern. Ran by several times against Missouri, and in other games as well. Consistently gives up vertical separation by simply not being able to match speed, especially at the top of routes. Stiff-hipped to the point where mirroring-and-matching is an issue. Average overall athlete without great click-and-close ability. If he can’t get his hands on you throughout the rep, he’s in danger of giving up separation. At times can be overaggressive in chasing routes in zone coverage, vacating his responsibilities. Needs to put on weight and get off blocks in the run game more consistently.
Feet – Operates from a balanced platform, showcasing patient footwork and rarely false steps. Has some tightness transitioning off his plant foot. Does well to crowd routes earlier and sustain his balance through contact. Not overly springy.
Man Coverage – Illustrates a natural ability to pattern match receivers. Physical in the contact window and is active with his hands. Overcomes modest athletic ability with strong route anticipation skills. There will be receivers he simply cannot keep pace with vertically without help over the top.
Tackling – More often than not he will square up, wrap low and bring his feet through contact. Positions himself well to tackle and takes good angles to the football. Not a standout in run support but maintains his leverage and will get involved.
IQ/Awareness – Notable strength of his game. Illustrates excellent route anticipation and zone awareness. Battles to stay leveraged. Has an obvious understanding of layering coverage and his responsibilities. Trusts his technique.
Physicality – Ultra competitive when he is tested in coverage. Clicks and closes with urgency and intent. Stoutly takes on blocks on the perimeter and funnels runs back inside. Does not concede leverage easily and does well to work routes to the sideline.
Ball Skills – Extremely disruptive at the catch point when he is tested. Drives forward on the football with excellent timing and plays through the hands of the receiver. Tracks the football over his shoulder and closes. Strong football IQ and reactionary skills puts him into position to compete.
Press Technique – Excels at lining up on top of receivers and disrupting in the contact window. Hands are active and his base is balanced while perfectly blending patience and aggression.
Flexibility – Has some notable tightness in his hips and ankles when transitioning. Not overly smooth with his change of direction skills. Makes up for deficiencies with strong processing skills. Will be limited in off-man duties.
Versatility – Projects best as an outside corner in a press/zone scheme. Can situationally play in the slot but speedster could be a problem. Adequate run defender. Limited in off-man coverage.
BEST TRAIT – Press Coverage
WORST TRAIT – Speed
RED FLAGS – None
Deandre Baker improved every year in college, culminating with a dominant senior season. His blend of ball skills, press technique, route anticipation skills and awareness combined with modest fluidity and long speed make him best served to function as a press/zone corner. Baker is an extreme competitor which shows up in how he tackles, battles at the catch point and plays off contact. Given his limitations in off-man coverage, Baker is a scheme-specific prospect but represents top-end ability for a team in search of what he does well. Baker should be an impact starter in press/zone.
Man Cover Skills –Has tremendous stickiness when playing in the face of receivers. Patient to not hinge and grant clean releases, very physical to bump and reroute receivers on vertical stems. Has a great feel for pending breaks and often will finish the route for his opponent.
Zone Cover Skills –Holds his water and won’t chase aggressively the first receiver to flash across his face. Does not have a lot of burst or range for deep third or bail technique, his value is strictly in playing on the hip of receivers unless he’s tasked with guarding inside 10 yards.
Feet/Change of Direction –Feet are effective in staying flat and leveraged over the top of releases, stays in position to contact. Transitional quickness is good, but not great. Often will take aggressive (and effective) angles out of the break to find himself back in the hip pocket and ready to challenge.
Ball Skills –Wonderful ability to disrupt the football. Plays through the hands of receivers when applicable and/or unable to greet the ball first. Has a good deal of ball production thanks to anticipatory quality and ability to react to flashing hands from the trail position.
Flexibility –Tightness through the hips can be documented when he’s isolated in space. Can allow inside separating when trying to flip open and subsequently drive on the break. Has great mobility and ball control in the air and at the catch point to stay feisty.
Acceleration –Downhill speed is just fine, has click and close and generates a lot of power in said instances to jar the football loose. Ability to flip hips vertically and chase is a bit compromised by some tightness in the hips and a lack of long speed.
Zone Spacing –Football IQ helps to mask for lack of elite spring in his steps, splits his landmarks well and is in position to challenge a target when his zones are stressed down the field. Understands when to carry a receiver and when to pass off and transition into a late developing route.
Competitive Toughness –Love his fight, particularly at the catch point and when targeted in coverage. Has a lot of pop in his pads, will lay the boom on receivers when he’s meeting the football at the catch point. Plays the boundary vs. the run with intent to hold the edge.
Run Support –Doesn’t have the most length or power to press back blocks but brings aggression to hold his ground. May not always shuck the blocks with quickness to peel off and make tackles himself, but he’s going to hit his landmarks and allow pursuit to catch the play.
Tackling –He’s going to drop the pads on unsuspecting victims with frequent success. Tackle radius is not especially high but his ability to stay glued on receivers down the field allows him to finish off targets on the occasions he does concede the catch.
BEST TRAIT – Man Cover Skills
WORST TRAIT – Long Speed
BEST FILM – Alabama (2017)
WORST FILM – LSU (2018)
RED FLAGS – None
Deandre Baker projects favorably as a press man corner in the NFL. If allowed to play within the contact window and disrupt route releases, Baker can be an impact starter from the get go. With some concerns centered around his long speed, Baker is a more favorable fit in a Cover 2 heavy defensive system, where he can be afforded deep help to ensure he’s not compromised vertically in the event he misses his jam at the LOS. Baker can make an immediate impact in the NFL.