Ever since the Arizona Cardinals drafted Budda Baker back in 2017, they knew they had a special player on their hands,
Especially after he made the All-Pro team as a rookie, now with four years and three more All-Pro selections later, Baker seems ready and poised to lead the Cardinals’ defense.
His versatility, ability, and willingness to line up anywhere on the field make him stand out. Baker could line up at safety, linebacker, and even at cornerback if it was needed of him.
Baker is like a chess piece that coaches can deploy anywhere on the field. Baker is the perfect fit for the hybrid safety/linebacker position, which is becoming more popular in the NFL.
His IQ is off the charts; he possesses elite speed, has good tackling form, and always plays like he is the biggest guy on the field.
Baker is quietly becoming one of the best safeties in the league. While he may not be considered the very best at his position, he’s the most valuable player on that Cardinals defense as the heart and soul of that unit.
His closing speed and ferocity are on another level, and he’s all over the place every game. However, he’s truly at his best when moving near the line of scrimmage and defending the run as a reliable tackler in traffic and in the open field.
Stats don’t tell all for the Arizona Cardinals’ budding star safety Budda Baker.
While he only has five career interceptions, he did have a career-high of 3 last season. Baker is often criticized for his low interception total, but he has perfected forcing incompletions.
On top of that, his effectiveness on 3rd downs, whether it’s a deep pass or a run, or a check down to the running back, Baker is ready for it and usually gets the Cardinals off the field.
Baker also covers well in space and can cover tight ends as well as the Cardinals often disguise him as an extra linebacker in nickel and dime formations. It’s not that Baker is bad in coverage, but defensive coordinator Vance Joseph understands what Baker does best and tries to put him in positions to be successful.
With LB Chandler Jones departing via free agency, the onus will be on Baker to continue to be one of the vocal leaders on the defense.
The Cardinals have some young and talented players on their team that are still developing, as Baker’s motivation and insight should help bring these guys along just fine.
Will Baker be able to elevate the Cardinals’ defense to elite status? As the leader of their defense, I wouldn’t doubt him. We may be on the verge of witnessing a huge year from Baker, as he should be recognized as one of the top safeties in the league.
As great of a player, as he is, he is still considered to be in the 2nd tier at his position as his name deserves to be mentioned along with Tyrann Mathieu, Jamal Adams, Justin Simmons, and Minkah Fitzpatrick.
Hopefully, this will be the year when Baker is mentioned among the upper echelon of players at his position and ascend this Arizona Cardinals defensive unit to new heights.