Baker's given name is Bishard, but has gone by Budda since birth because his mother thought he looked like a Buddha doll. Nothing Zen about his game, though, as he's been a starter for the Huskies since he stepped on campus. The former Washington state high school 100-meter champion (and three-time state football champ) was honorable mention All-Pac 12 as a freshman (80 tackles, INT, six pass break-ups). Baker garnered first-team all-conference honors in 2015 (49 tackles, seven PBU) and 2016 (team-leading 71 tackles, 10 for loss, two INT, six PBU).
Tremendously explosive and passionate in his play. Former high school track sprinter with good play speed. Screams off the edge as a blitzer. Always bouncing on balls of his feet just waiting to race to the action on a dead sprint. Plays with smooth backpedal and diagonal shuffle. Has a shiftiness that allows him to mirror change of direction in space. Plus instincts from any coverage areas. Allows quarterback's eyes and pattern recognition to carry him around the field. Not easily pulled from coverage responsibilities by bait routes around him. Has the click and close ability of a cornerback in coverage. Ball skills are solid. Plays with exceptional aggression. Accelerates through receivers to jar the pass loose. Tackle finisher who races to the throw to end plays at the catch point. Scouts use terms like "winner" and "top notch person" to describe him.
Undersized safety in a smaller frame. Could struggle to carry 200 pounds as a pro. Gets big-boyed by tight ends from the slot. Lack of size may limit how NFL teams can use him. Aggressive shoulder rolls into running backs could cause future health issues. Force as a tackler just average against big running backs. Forced into grab and drag scenarios to get running backs down at times. Small hesitation to accelerate when forced to open and sprint down the field. Can be too overzealous when stepping downhill to tackle. May need to play with a little more discipline and control as an NFL tackler.
Sources Tell Us
"I would leave him as a centerfielder and then roll him down over the slot if you needed too. He's too small to cover tight ends, but he's got great instincts in coverage which is why he should shine as a single-high." - NFC area scout
Undersized free safety with the heart of a linebacker. Baker plays with a competitive desire that leaps off the field when you watch him thanks to elite football character and above-average explosiveness. While he is undersized, he makes up for it with his football instincts and plus play speed. Baker has the talent to become a play-making safety with Pro Bowl potential if he can sustain his health.