With the NFL combine in full swing, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a few holes to fill this off-season. The biggest need is at defensive back. The Buccaneers should be looking to fill this position either in the draft, or in free agency. The Buccaneers will have a great opportunity to shore up the position with the fifth pick in the draft. Here is a quick look at one player for the Buccaneers to keep an eye on, former Georgia cornerback DeAndre Baker.
Where it started
At five-foot eleven-inches and 190 pounds, Baker fits into the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive scheme as he can play both man and zone coverage with excellent ball skills. Inserted into the starting lineup four games into his sophomore season, DeAndre made an immediate impact recording 31 tackles, a tackle for loss, a sack, five pass breakups and a forced fumble in 13 games and eight starts in 2016.
As a junior, Baker started all 15 games and compiled another great season piling up 44 tackles, a tackle for loss, three interceptions and nine pass breakups. Over his final two seasons at Georgia, Baker did not allow his man to reach the end zone. The final game of the 2016 season, a Liberty Bowl win over TCU was the last touchdown surrendered of his career.
His senior year, Baker mirrored the opposing team’s top receiver more often than not. He held Van Jefferson without a catch in the game against the Florida Gators. South Carolina’s Deebo Samuel had six catches but only 33 yards and Vanderbilt’s Kalija Lipsomb had three grabs for 55 yards. The most impressive game of Baker’s career had to be the SEC championship game where he held Jerry Jeudy, the 2018 Biletnikoff award winner to only three catches and 24 yards.
What makes the player
The strength of DeAndre Baker’s game is his man coverage skills. He has tremendous stickiness when playing in the face of receivers. He is patient to not hinge and grant clean releases. Baker is also physical enough to bump and reroute receivers on vertical stems. The former Bulldog has a great feel for pending breaks and often will finish the route for his opponents. The SEC standout has a good deal of ball production thanks to his anticipatory skills and his ability to react to flashing hands from trail positions.
DeAndre Baker should be one of the players the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have their eyes on during this off-season. He brings a lot of the traits that the defensive staff loves and would fit into the aggressive scheme that many expect from the Buccaneers. Only time will tell but the combine has started, and Baker will have his talent on display for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as well as the other teams around the league.