With the Arizona Cardinals teetering on the cliff, ready to fall into a pit of despair, many of their fans are crying for change. Mostly, that comes in the form of quarterback Blaine Gabbert. I mean, you might as well see what you’ve got, right?
But to me, the more intriguing young player that should and will start seeing more playing time is safety Budda Baker. The rookie out of Washington has flashed throughout the season, especially last week against the Seattle Seahawks. He’s already a stud on special teams. But a stalwart in the secondary? Why not?
Let’s face it, the safeties the Cardinals have right now each leave something to be desired. Tyvon Branch can’t stay healthy, and he was on his way to a really nice season and a healthy payday next year before most recently tearing his ACL. Antoine Bethea has played well, but he’s 33 years old. And Tyrann Mathieu... well... take a look at my Twitter account for my thoughts on him. Here’s a snapshot: he’s overpaid for what he produces on the field and he’s injury prone. Time to cut your losses.
So where does that leave us? Tony Jefferson and D.J. Swearinger are gone, so the team needs healthy youth at the position. Enter Budda Baker.
He’s been a nice piece as a rover in the middle of the field, breaking up passes and almost grabbing a couple of interceptions. Where he needs to improve is as a deep safety, as he has been a bit susceptible in that area up to this point.
But as long as his smaller frame doesn’t break down in the way Mathieu’s has, he could be a solid player for the Cardinals for a long time to come. The Cardinals obviously think so, otherwise they wouldn’t have moved up in the second round to grab him.
What do you think? Is Baker the future at safety? Can he be relied upon to stay healthy and contribute?