8. Drafting Budda Baker
At the time of drafting Budda Baker, the Cardinals appeared to have an excellent crop of talent at safety. But, that didn’t stop Keim from drafting the Washington product at the top of the second round in 2017. So far, that pick has turned out to be the right one and then some.
One of the primary reasons Keim moved on from Tyrann Mathieu is because of Baker’s talents and outstanding rookie season. Again, so far, that move has turned out to be the right one as Baker proved to be a high-level safety/nickel defensive back in his second season as a pro. In 2018, the safety played in 14 games and racked up 102 total tackles, eight tackles for loss, and a pass deflection.
Baker started his Cardinals tenure as a standout special teamer and received an All-Pro and Pro-Bowl nod for his proficiency on the third team. However, he’s much more than that as he’s ascended from special-teamer to nickel cornerback to now starting safety. That ascension isn’t a fluke.
The 5-10, 195-pound defender is versatile, rangy, and is one of the best tacklers in recent Arizona Cardinals memory. Baker brings an extra level of attitude and leadership to the defense, which means he’ll be a leader for the team in his third year of play. Keim simply got a key-cog and future star in Baker; can’t argue with those results.