Arizona Cardinals can build run defense around Budda Baker
Budda Baker continues to pay off as one of the Cardinals best draft picks in recent memory.
After seeing 425 more defensive snaps in 2018, Budda Baker proved that he is a building block for the Arizona Cardinals defense. New defensive coordinator and defensive back whisperer Vance Joseph also sees him as such, as he mentioned that Baker would be a full-time safety in 2019, which will be his most significant role for the Arizona Cardinals to date.
Not only are coaches impressed, but trusted football analytics firm Pro Football Focus is as well. They noted that in 2018, Baker lead the team in run stops by a sizeable margin, despite being a defensive back and missing two games.
For Cardinals fans, this doesn’t come as a surprise. During Baker’s rookie season, he was named as a first-team All-Pro and Pro-Bowler as a special teams player known for his tackling abilities. In 2018, he was the bright spot for a defense that struggled as he lined up all over the field.
Whether it was as a cornerback, nickel back, free safety, or strong safety, Baker shined as he tallied 102 total tackles, two sacks, eight tackles for loss, a pass deflection, and a touchdown. However, he was often lined up near the line of scrimmage as a nickel defensive back due to his stout run support.
It should be interesting to track Baker’s development as he heads into year three in the NFL. Because of Vance Joseph’s comments, he will likely line up as a roaming free safety adjacent D.J. Swearinger. But, because of Baker’s stout run-stopping abilities, don’t be surprised to see Baker play close to the line of scrimmage.