From now until the 2019 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to showcase as many prospects as possible and examine both their strengths and weaknesses. Most of these profiles will feature individuals that the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have an interest in, while a few others will be top-ranked players. If there is a player you would like us to analyze, let us know in the comments below.
#18 Deandre Baker/CB Georgia – 5’11 185
– Good size and looks even bigger than he’s listed
– Fantastic athlete, great straight line speed, fluid player in his transitions and change of direction
– Plays the ball in the air as well as you could expect, routinely breaks the ball up, and times his leaps on jump balls in the end zone very well
– Excellent in man coverage, runs with the best players, and shows good eye discipline, not fooled by double-moves
– Capable in press man, patience in his pedal and doesn’t offer a clean release
– Shows veteran tools (like speed turn) to recover when beat off the line
– Productive player against top, SEC competition
– Experience at both corner spots, though more time at right than left
– Solid starting experience
– Decorated, durable player with tons of accolades
– Needs to more disciplined in zone coverage, can get locked in on the QB and lose track of route distribution around him
– Weak against the run, struggles to get off stalk blocks by WRs in the run game, need to see more urgency
– Inconsistent tackler who needs to show more power and take higher angles, drops his head and goes for the cutdown too often against running backs
– Will punch with wrong hand in press coverage and be a little late opening his hips but has athleticism to recover
– Three year starter, 34 in his Georgia career
– Career: 116 tackles, 23 breakups, seven interceptions
– 2018: 40 tackles, nine breakups, two picks
– Highly decorated senior season, AP All-American and 2018 Jim Thorpe Winner, awarded to top DB in college football
– Ran track and field in high school in addition to playing football (200 and 400 meter dash)
Baker is actually a relatively easy breakdown judging what he did and didn’t do well at the college level, which is why his Good/Bad isn’t as extensive as others. But what’s good is really good and what’s bad is troubling. As always, let’s begin with the good.
In coverage, Baker is excellent. Maybe the best in this class? I’ll have to watch some more. But his ball skills are excellent. Interception numbers are a little on the low side but teams didn’t want to throw to him and playing as much man coverage as he did, lost out on some picks (zone lends itself to more INTs, eyes on the ball) and more breakups. You can have a five minute reel of him separating player from ball. Couple examples.
He’s a tremendous athlete who will definitely test well at Indy. Fluid, fast, can change directions without a hitch or any stiffness. I know it doesn’t seem like much but watch him still outrun this Florida receiver (top of the GIF) with his head turned around, while the receiver is full speed ahead.
Here’s Baker running step for step with Hollywood Brown, one of the most electric players in college football.
Now the bad? Yeah, dude’s Charmin weak against the run. Doesn’t want to get off blocks, not super physical, and his lack of tackles largely reflect that, averaging about three per game over the last two seasons.
It’s a question of what do you value. Do you want him to play better against the run? Sure. It’s still important. But the Steelers have arguably placed too high of a value on old-school, run stuffing corners, and that’s why they’ve struggled to evaluate in this modern day, finding playmakers who can actually cover. If you gotta sacrifice a little against the run, and hope you can improve him there, it’s a chance you’re willing to take. Easier to work on that area than it is coverage and ball skills, which feel like more innate traits to a corner.
Some will say he’s another Artie Burns, and I get where you’re coming from, but I think he’s much more instinctual and less raw of a prospect overall. Worth the 20th pick, though I wonder if that senior tag on him will have the Steelers think twice. They’ve been loving those underclassmen, for better or worse.
Projection: Mid-Late Day One
Games Watched: vs Missouri (2017), vs Oklahoma (2018 – playoff), vs Tennessee, at LSU, vs Florida