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.