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2019 NFL Draft profile: Deandre Baker could be the shutdown corner that the Lions need

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It’s a good year to be looking for a young cornerback.

NCAA Football: Georgia at Georgia Tech Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

If the Detroit Lions are looking to add a cornerback in the early rounds of the draft, then Deandre Baker is a name worth considering. He is a guy that would fit Patricia’s scheme to a T with his experience and success in press-man coverage. Baker has been mocked to the Lions numerous times and could be the missing link in the secondary that they desperately need.

Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia

5-foot-11, 185 pounds

2015 stats: 1 game | 1 solo tackle | 1 total
2016 stats: 8 games | 21 solo tackles | 31 total | 1 TFL | 1 sack | 2 INTs | 5 PDs | 1 FF
2017 stats: 15 games | 30 solo tackles | 44 total | 1 TFL | 3 INTs | 9 PDs
2018 stats: 11 games | 28 solo tackles | 37 total | 2 TFL | 2 INTs | 9 PDs | 1 FF

Current draft projection: First round

Background

Team profile page

Baker was just a three-star recruit out of high school and ultimately chose to go to Georgia despite teasing the night before that he might be joining Texas with a series of Longhorn tweets. He earned his first start at cornerback as a sophomore for the Bulldogs and never looked back. Baker was presented the Jim Thorpe Award in 2018, given to the nation’s top defensive back. He was also a semi-finalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award (nation’s top defender).

Strengths

  • True shutdown corner in man coverage. Mirrors well; difficult to shake him off.
  • At his best in press-man, but closes gap quickly in off-man as well.
  • Good instincts with plenty of experience in all types of coverage. Played all over the secondary during his career with the Bulldogs.
  • Looks taller than his listed height, maybe due to good length for the position. Able to contest and play the catch point well even on bigger receivers.
  • Physical and aggressive corner from the snap until the end of the play. Jams well at the line of scrimmage and looks in control throughout the route.

Weaknesses

  • Lacks effort in run support would be putting it nicely. Often waits for ball carrier to come to him and lacks aggressiveness vs. the run.
  • Testing will be important for him. Played mostly boundary corner for Georgia to mitigate lack of deep speed. If he tests poorly, that will lower his stock considerably.
  • Will need to add a little bit of weight to his frame. Skinny legs and walks around at a listed 185 pounds.

Games watched: 2018 vs. Tennessee, 2018 vs. LSU, 2017 vs. Oklahoma, 2018 vs. South Carolina, 2017 vs. Missouri

Overview and Projection

I’m a bit skeptical of Baker in terms of his athleticism, but his tape is a real joy to watch. If he runs in the high 4.5s or 4.6s, then it may be tough to justify a first or second=round selection on Baker, especially with the Lions (and myself) swinging and missing on their Teez Tabor selection just a couple years ago. Testing is more important depending on the position, and I believe speed is a necessity to play corner in Matt Patricia’s man-heavy scheme.

If Baker does put his speed concerns to rest, then I believe he immediately solidifies his status as one of the top CBs in this year’s class. He is a true shutdown corner that uses good technique, length and physicality to disrupt receivers at the catch point. Baker could be a perfect fit in terms of scheme and would give the Lions some much needed help at one of their biggest needs and has the chance to start Day 1 opposite of Darius Slay.