In case you missed it, last week we went over Haason Reddick and what he figures to bring to the field in his 2017 rookie campaign. To summarize everything, he figures to be a big part of what the Cardinals do on defense, especially with the latest news of Deone Bucannon undergoing ankle surgery which could result in him missing time.
The same can probably be said for the team's second round pick, safety Budda Baker. General manager Steve Keim fell in love with what Baker brings to the field during the draft process and made the move to trade up in the second round to make sure he could secure the talented defensive back. So what exactly does he bring? And how much field time will he get in 2017? Let's take a look.
Games Played: 16
I foresee Baker being a part of every game in one form or another this season. He is a quick learner and was begging Bruce Arians for a copy of the defensive playbook from the moment he was drafted by the Cardinals. As we know, the Cardinals love to play in nickel and even dime formations, so they will need all the defensive back contributions they can get. Even if Baker only sees a few snaps here and there, I still think he gets playing time in every game this upcoming season. He may be able to contribute on special teams as well.
Stat Line: 1 sack, 20 tackles, 1 interception
Role: 4th safety behind Tyrann Mathieu, Antoine Bethea and Tyvon Branch. Playmaker in the middle of the field and around the line of scrimmage. Will occasionally be deployed in man coverage against tight ends and slot receivers.
Long-term outlook: Excellent
Bethea and Branch are not in the long term plans of the Arizona Cardinals due to their age and injury history. Arizona would love to be able to place Mathieu and Baker at the primary safety spots given the versatility they both bring, but if Mathieu's injury woes don't stop, Baker could wind up being the replacement for Mathieu. Baker plays with a similar physicality and tenacity that could turn into a very similar filled stat sheet at the end of every game.
Like Reddick, Baker has star potential. He is undersized for his position, but the versatility and skill he brings to the field remind the Cardinals of Tyrann Mathieu, who is unmatched in talent level when he is healthy. If the Cardinals can have both Baker and Mathieu in their long term plans, Defensive Coordinator James Bettcher will have two of the most useful and diverse defensive tools in the NFL.