Arizona Cardinals starting safety Budda Baker is gaining notice around the National Football League with his outstanding play
During the Arizona Cardinals nationally-televised matchup with the San Francisco 49ers last week, one particular player on defense stood out. Budda Baker, the Cards third-year safety, was playing like a man possessed. Whoever said that the best athletes excel under the bright lights of a primetime telecast obviously knew what they were talking about.
Baker’s performance versus the 49ers was absolutely scintillating. The Cardinals second-round draft pick in 2017 was flying around, making plays all over the field. NFL fans who didn’t know about Baker before the contest are more than likely aware of him now.
The 5’10, 195 pounder was practically unblockable on Halloween night. Baker was credited with an outstanding 13 tackles (11 solo) and three passes defensed. The 23-year old also held his own against George Kittle, San Francisco’s Pro Bowl tight end, for most of the evening.
Since he entered the league three seasons, Baker’s pass-coverage has been average at best. During the early stages of the meeting with the 49ers, however, the former University of Washington product was giving Kittle fits. Baker did get knocked to the ground by a Kittle stiff-arm that resulted in a touchdown, but he certainly acquitted himself well in a battle with one of pro football’s best.
Baker has registered some impressive numbers since he became a professional back in ’17. In 16 appearances (seven starts) that year, the rookie defender racked up 74 tackles, seven passes defensed and a sack. Baker also excelled on special teams, and was voted to the Pro Bowl for his efforts.
The energetic Baker was even better during his sophomore campaign. He increased his tackle total to 102, and recorded two sacks in addition. Baker’s highlight in 2018 came during a clash with the Minnesota Vikings, when he scooped up a fumble and returned it 36 yards for a score.
Nine weeks into 2019, there’s just one safety who has more tackles than Baker. His 76 stops rank second only to Landon Collins of the Washington Redskins, who has tallied 78. Baker has broke up four passes and has also forced a fumble as well.
Baker seems to be destined for stardom, and is certainly one of the building blocks of the Arizona defensive unit. His sensational outing versus San Francisco was an indication of how dominating he can be. The Cards have assembled a good-looking young secondary, and could look to the talented Baker to lead the group into the future.