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Budda Baker back to the slot according to David Merritt

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The Arizona Cardinals will deploy Budda Baker in the slot according to their defensive backs coach.

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NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars at Arizona Cardinals Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

There is always something to talk about in the NFL.

In Darren Urban’s article looking at Budda Baker yesterday, there was a quote from defensive backs coach David Merritt that insinuates that Budda Baker will play the slot cornerback role for the Cardinals in 2018:

“When you look at Budda and the positions we are asking him to play, I go back to college and he was playing the slot,” defensive backs coach David Merritt said. “He was very successful and he shot down a lot of planes, is what I like to say. We have him again playing in the slot, like what Honey Badger did for them.”

This leads to several questions.

  1. Is Budda going to be playing safety and moving into the slot with three wide receiver sets?
  2. Is Baker going to be a slot CB only?
  3. Will Baker get all of the snaps, 99.43% Tyrann played, even though it is a different defense?
  4. Who plays safety when Budda does not?
  5. Who plays CB if Budda is playing safety?

Basically, this quote gives more questions than answers, unless the Cardinals are keeping the defense the same as last year... Which we know they are not.

It sounds like, reading the article, that Baker’s role will be somewhat similar to college, as Pro Football Focus explained in their scouting report on Baker:

Baker seems best fit in a role close to the line of scrimmage in nickel defenses when he can attack the LOS, but is more worrisome the farther he gets played back in coverage because his tackling in open space is poor. He works well when moving downhill as he closes quickly on the ball, making him effective as a short zone player or perhaps as a quarters safety, but his size can also be an issue if forced to match up with bigger slot receivers or tight ends when deployed close to the line of scrimmage.

What Baker is is a weapon. The Cardinals will have to figure out how to use him now and that role will mean there are holes created at other positions.

Can the Cardinals find the right fit to fill each one?