Michigan State Junior
Has good sped to get to the edge and good burst to and through the hole. Does a nice job as a one-cut runner ont he edge or on the stretch play and can get north and south. Won't shy away from contact at the point of attack, and knows how to run behind his pads, lower shoulder and deliver blow to a defender. Can break arm tackles with his compact build and keeps his feet moving after contact. Has good feet in the open field and able to set up and juke the defender on the edge in one on one situations. Patient runner that will follow his blockers through the hole. Has decent vision. Can adjust to the throw behind him when working on the outside in the passing game with good hands to make grabs in traffic.
Lacks ideal size and won't break a ton of tackles and do a lot after contact. Lacks blazing speed and not a guy that will make a ton of homerun plays. Prefers to bounce plays outside, and not as effective between the tackles. Won't consistently make the first defender miss and seemingly only wins when he's in one on one situations. Doesn't always play with great balance as defenders around his legs can trip him up. Doesn't always showcase good hands, not adjusting to some throws behind him.
Baker has the squat, compact build that is becoming more en vogue nowadays in the NFL. He's more of a change of pace back that lacks the top-end speed or playmaking ability. He can definitely add depth and develop some potential as a third down back, but he's not the caliber of runner that his predecessor Javon Ringer was. He lost his starting job midway through the season due to some issues with ball security, although he showed none in the games I saw last year.
2011 GAMES WATCHED:
(9/2) vs. Youngstown St: 14 att., 86 yds, 6.1 avg, 14 YAC, 0 TDs
(10/1) at Ohio St: 11 att., 36 yds, 3.3 avg, 3 YAC, 0 TDs; 1 target, 0 rec., 0 yds
(11/12) at Iowa: 13 att., 51 yds, 3.9 avg, 7 YAC, 0 TDs; 1 tgt., 1 rec., 17 yds, 0 YAC, 1 TDs
(12/3) vs. Wisconsin: 9 att., 31 yds, 3.4 avg, 5 YAC, 1 TDs; 0 tgt., 0 rec., 0 yds
2011: 14 GP/8 GS, 170 att., 665 yds, 3.9 avg, 5 TDs; 5 rec., 60 yds, 12.0 avg, 1 TDs
2010: 13/12-207-1201-5.8-13; 3-22-7.3-0
2009: 8/2-85-427-5.0-1; 7-43-6.1-0
To be honest, I don't like the fact that Baker left early. He lost his starting job, and basically he's going pro with one good year under his belt. I'm not going to hold it too much against him, but it would be better if he had returned to East Lansing to try and win back his starting job rather than basically quitting. And it's why I don't have that high an opinion of his future in the pros. I think he can become a competent backup, but he tends to be more of a guy that I think will be the product of the line he has in front of him, rather than a guy that is going to make his blocking better. I think that can make him into a competent No. 2, if he can prove himself adept at becoming a better receiver and improving in pass protection. He didn't do a lot there at Michigan State. And I think he'll work best on a team that runs a lot of zone-blocking and is looking more for a guy that can be a threat on the outside. But all of it leads to him probably being the third guy on most team's depth chart than someone that is going to be a regular contributor on Sundays. He can play in a pinch, and I think if a guy goes down with an injury, you're more than confident that you can throw him out there and he can give you 5-10 good carries. But as far as having upside to be a really good backup or a guy that is a regular in a rotation, I just don't see it. He's a depth guy that if he cannot carve out a niche on third downs or on special teams, I'm not sure there is a whole lot of value to keeping him around long-term. I think those skills can develop somewhat, particularly his ability on third downs. But four years from now, he strikes me as the guy that teams pick up during the course of a season when they have an injury, not the sort of runner that they keep around because they really value him as a commodity. So I see him growing into a journeyman backup.
Baker can add depth in Atlanta, but because he's not a particularly explosive runner, or adept on third downs he really doesn't add anything to the Falcons lineup currently. He's a similar runner to Rodgers, but not as good and a much lesser player on third downs. So unless he was solid on special teams, then I don't see him being anything more than a developmental practice squad option for the Falcons in year one. He's a better runner than Antone Smith, but I don't see him being more able to contribute right away to make it worth the Falcons cutting Smith and keeping him as the fourth running back. With a year or so on the depth chart, I think he could make the roster as the third or fourth back and again add depth. But unless he carves out a significant niche on special teams or because a much better third down option, then like Smith he's going to probably be a short-timer in Atlanta.
Baker has enough talent to be worth drafting because he's a good runner. But because he's going to have to be stashed away on a depth chart because of his limited special teams value and third down abilities, taking him before the seventh round would be a reach.
1-pathetic, 2-poor, 3-weak, 4-below average, 5-average, 6-above average, 7-good, 8-very good, 9-excellent, 10-elite
Scouting reports of the running backs and fullbacks in the 2012 Draft
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