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2017 NFL Draft: Budda Baker Selected by Arizona Cardinals

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Who was once Chris Petersen’s most important recruit will begin his NFL career in Arizona.

NCAA Football: Washington at Arizona Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

The former Washington DB was selected 36th overall by the Arizona Cardinals. He is the 3rd Washington player drafted.

The Basics

Budda Baker was a unanimously rated top 100 player coming out of high school, and one of the best safeties in the country. After winning 3 state championships at Bellevue, he committed to the hated Oregon Ducks. Once Chris Petersen arrived on campus, his recruitment was priority #1 - few players embody Chris Petersen’s philosophies on football more than Budda Baker. His eventual flip to the Huskies was an early sign that the balance of power in the Pac-12 North was beginning to sway.

When he arrived on campus in the fall before the 2014 season, he was inserted at free safety, and never relinquished that spot, playing in 40 games for the Huskies, starting nearly every one. He was perhaps the best overall player on the team during his time on Montlake, and was a 2016 consensus All-American. He was also first team all Pac-12 his sophomore year, and honorable mention his freshman year. It’s possible no other play captures Budda’s time on Montlake more than his interception on the first snap of the game against Oregon, to trigger a 70-21 rout and break the streak.

Instant Analysis

In Budda Baker, the Cardinals are getting an incredibly explosive and quick safety prospect. While undersized at 5-10 and 195 pounds, he has exceptional instincts, open field tackling, short area quickness, and coverage skills. Baker also showed off his high level athleticism at the combine, running a 4.45 40 yard dash and having the best 20 yard shuttle time among the safety group.

Where he projects in the NFL is up in the air, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. He’s a versatile player and different teams may decide to use him in different ways. Some might love his ability to defeat blocks and opt to play him closer to the line of scrimmage to be in a position make more plays. Another organization could be concerned about his size that close to the LOS where he would be covering bigger tight ends, and opt to play him as a single high safety. He breaks incredibly quick when a ball is thrown, arriving at the ball at the same time as the receiver, and could excel there.

The bottom line with Budda is that he’s an incredibly versatile and athletic safety who’s just always around the ball. I know I join Dawg fans around the world in congratulating Budda Baker on a fantastic Washington career and we can’t wait to see what he does in the NFL!