Budda Baker still a top-10 safety, say NFL coaches, scouts, execs

The Arizona Cardinals know they have a great safety in Budda Baker. Football people believe it. Analytics people, not so much.

While more analytical rankings never include Baker, he gets respect from football people, which is why he has been a Pro Bowler six times.

In a new survey of NFL coaches, executives and scouts to determine the top 10 safeties in the NFL from ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, Baker makes the list at No. 6.

He was ranked as high as No. 3 on some ballots.

While the top five features several younger players, Baker is the veteran for whom evaluators still pound the table.

He’ll be 29 in January and failed to record a pass deflection in 2023, but his statistics don’t tell his story. His toughness and tone-setting do.

“He hasn’t dropped off at all as far as his ability to close on the football, be disruptive, play with physicality, leadership, football smarts,” an NFL coordinator said. “That [Cardinals] defense really missed him early in the year when he missed a few games.”

Baker missed five games after suffering a hamstring injury during a Week 2 practice. Still, Baker’s 37% run stop win rate led all safeties with at least 100 run stop wins.

“The most urgent defensive back in the league,” an NFL personnel evaluator said. “He’s so fast to the football.”

Baker can be a playmaker. However, with his reputation around the league, opposing offenses run opposite his side and avoid him. Teams like the Los Angeles Rams have a rule that they always get a blocker on Baker.

He didn’t have the volume numbers last year as in years past, but a healthy season could change that. He enters the final year of his contract and could set himself up for one more big payday.

Listen to the latest from Cards Wire’s Jess Root on his podcast, Rise Up, See Red. Subscribe on SpotifyYouTube or Apple podcasts.

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Title: Budda Baker still a top-10 safety, say NFL coaches, scouts, execs
Author: Jess Root

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