#26 Deandre Baker, Cornerback, Georgia
Last season, Georgia ranked second in the SEC in passing yards allowed and a large reason for their success stems from the play of cornerback Deandre Baker. Unsurprisingly, he was a First Team AP All-American and finished his career at Georgia with seven interceptions. He is probably the most accomplished cornerback in this draft class as he won the Jim Thorpe award last season, which is given to the best defensive back. Given his accolades and coverage abilities, Baker could be a great value pick for teams selecting towards the end of the first round.
Baker is good in both zone and man coverage, but projects better in zone at the next level because he lacks ideal top-end speed to make coaches feel comfortable leaving him on an island in man coverage. He ran a 4.53 second 40-yard dash at the combine and for comparison, cornerback Greedy Williams’ time was 4.37 seconds. While his speed might not be ideal, Baker is exceptional at putting his foot in the ground and making plays on the ball against curl routes. He showed versatility as he was asked to cover both outside and slot receivers at Georgia. Regardless of where he is covering (outside or slot), he struggles against breaking routes. This could be a result of him getting caught flat-footed. However, his versatility and coverage abilities would make any defensive coordinator happy.
Fit for the Raiders
Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther likes to run zone coverage and that makes Baker a good fit for Guenther’s system. Baker is a legitimate option for Oakland with picks 24 or 27 and while the Raiders secondary has come a long way since 2017, they could still use help at cornerback. Adding him to the mix with defensive backs Gareon Conley, Daryl Worley, and Lamarcus Joyner would give the Oakland a young secondary that most teams would be envious of. Of the four, Joyner is the oldest at 28-years old and the next oldest is Worley at 24.
Last season, the Eagles defense ranked 30th in passing yards allowed and ranked eight in sacks. Thus, pass rush is not the cause for Philadelphia’s struggles and they should look to tighten up their secondary. As mentioned above, Baker could be a great fit for the Raiders. Assuming Oakland doesn’t take a cornerback at pick 24 and the Eagles pass on him, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Baker wearing the Silver and Black with the 27th pick. Another fit for Baker would be the Chiefs since they were one of two teams that gave up more passing yards than the Eagles a season ago. Kansas City is trying to create a new identity on defense and adding Baker would help them establish that new start.