[#FilmWithFive] Prospect Preview: FS Budda Baker

Budda Baker’s the trifecta: a great story, a great kid, and a great player.

If the clichés haven’t left you paralyzed already, I urge you to stick with me here.

He’s the local kid (Bellevue, Washington, to be exact) who stayed local and continued to flourish at the University of Washington. I mean, just hit his bio on the school’s site if you’ve got a couple minutes to kill — it’s quite the list. Perhaps what stands out most to me are the track and field accolades. The kid’s an athlete, and that obviously translates to the football field and what we see on film.

To be fair, Budda Baker’s not the only multi-sport athlete who arrived on a college campus. I would argue that he’s on a different tier as far as athleticism, however.

.. also an outstanding sprinter on the track team … as a senior, led Bellevue to the state title, winning the 100 meters, the 200 meters and and the 4×100 relay … top time of 2014 season in the 100 was a 10.75 and top time in the 200 was 21.68 … won the 3A state title in the 100 meters (10.77), the 4×100 relay (41.63) and the 4×400 relay (3:20.12) while taking third in the long jump (22-08.25) as a junior in 2013, when Bellevue won the team title … won the 4×100 and the 4×400 and took fourth in the long jump and fifth in the 200 as a sophomore in 2012 …

Once you work through the small novel that is his résumé-to-date, my guess is that you stop and stare at his height. He’s not necessarily towering over anyone out there, and that’s ok.

Exhibit A (obviously pre-Combine):


Exhibit B:


Exhibit C:


Shouts to NFL Draft Scout for the #numbers.

Now, there have been a handful of folks who have already drawn parallels to Earl’s game and what Baker brings to the table. That’s not exactly the purpose of this exercise, but the height/weight comparisons are notable; basically, let’s keep an open mind.

Many Raiders fans may be familiar with the “Reggie McKenzie threshold” narrative (and the debates that always follow). There was a certain school of thought that had a player like Karl Joseph all but crossed of the General Manager’s “big board” last spring due to height. Obviously not the case. Given that, Budda’s certainly in play for Oakland when things kick-off on April 27th. The only question I’ll have is if he’ll last to twenty-something, especially after he smokes the Combine in March.

Let’s hit the tape.

This is “Little Budda”, you guys.

The dude just flies around. Throwing blockers aside and screaming toward the quarterback; plays like that, that play-style, is where the Earl chatter and comparisons stem from. And while both comparisons are lofty (as they normally are), Baker’s play is more reminiscent of Mathieu than Thomas – but enough of all that.

The hips work (flips twice here), easily sidesteps the block attempt and tops it all off with a clean tackle for loss. More plays. More life.

In order to keep it real cliché, I can confidently say that Baker “plays bigger than he’s listed”. His play vs. the run stands out; coming down hill isn’t an issue for Small Baker.

He does get caught, although rarely. Not a weight or size issue nor was it his angle (in this instance), he just simply didn’t make the play – it happens.

I don’t believe angles are a consistent issue with Baker. Same can be said for his tackling, where I think he excels, especially in space. Instead, the speed that he plays at “catches up to him” from time to time. He has a tendency to over-pursue, and at times, takes himself out of the play entirely.

On the topic of knocks, and going back to the Honey Badger comparisons: one area that Baker could work on is improving the mittens:

By no means a deal-breaker for me but figured we could at least jot it down, and keep things fair.

I’d move on from Reggie Nelson, draft Budda Baker, throw him in center field and allow him to be great. The range is there, my pals:

Something interesting to note with Baker, as I ran through the cut-ups. He’s clearly athletic, and his reaction/jump on the football is excellent. With that said, his closing speed (at times) leaves something to be desired. I don’t know, maybe I just have these lofty visions, but I feel like he could close a step or two quicker?

He’s making the play regardless, and this is probably more nitpick-y than anything. Here, we see him react and close a bit quicker – so it’s not like he’s incapable:

Hopefully these clips start to paint the picture. Working off of what Draft Breakdown has uploaded at the moment, I’m not opposed to coming back and adding some more cuts as they become available. Regardless, and with what’s in front of us, his ability and what he brings to the table is pretty clear. While current Raiders’ FS Reggie Nelson has the noteworthy interception numbers, he’s also been a consistent liability in coverage when tested (especially deep). An addition like Budda Baker would allow Karl Joseph to play closer to the line of scrimmage (where he excelled), without having to stress about what may be coming over the top.

It wouldn’t surprise if we were to see Baker’s name mocked to Oakland more and more leading up to the Combine, and as we push toward draft day (reminiscent of the rise Joseph had last spring). He’s a player, don’t sleep.

Catch me on Twitter: @StillRyanFive