Shows pop and is able to get position as a run blocker. Is able to get out on the second level and get the seal against the middle linebacker. Plays with good base and hard to push back at the point of attack in pass protection. Shows good mean streak. Is comfortable calling out assignments and making adjustments at the line.
Doesn't show the quickest hands and can't consistently initiate contact in pass protection. Gets overextended at times in pass protection and whiffs on his punch. Becomes less effective when a nose tackle lines up over him. Needs to do a better job locking on as a run blocker and can't consistently get position to wall off and redirect defender. Doesn't get very much push in short-yardage. Struggles at times adjusting in space on the second level.
Baxter played much of the latter half of this past year with a torn meniscus in his right knee and it showed at times as he wasn't able to play with great base or consistently get leverage. He had the surgery in December and should be 100% by the time the draft rolls around with a 2-3 month recovery time. He's limited on an island because he doesn't have great hands, but has the size, strength, and potential you like in a center. He started 48 career games, including his last 33 at center, and his first 15 at left guard.
Baxter has the ability to play either guard or center. He doesn't offer the ideal size and strength but the fact that he doesn't have great hands to play center may make him a better fit at guard. That ability should allow him some longevity in the pros adding depth. He has starting potential, and you like his smarts, toughness, and leadership ability to develop. Not sure he's going to be a stud center if he does develop, but certainly has the potential to be above average if he can polish some things up. More than likely, he spends the first few years of his career as a reserve and swing guy in the pivot, and then three or so years down the road he can push for a starting spot and potentially win one. Ultimately he projects as a fairly average NFL starter that can be a guy like a Roberto Garza at guard or Eric Heitmann at center. Neither are great pros, but good and versatile enough that they get the job done and have managed to stay in the starting lineup.
Baxter can add depth for the Falcons because he can play both center and guard. He has potential to develop as a starter and could be a good insurance policy to have behind McClure in case Hawley doesn't take well in the next year or so. He could compete as the heir apparent at center in 2012, although he'll likely be the loser of the battle. But if so, he still adds value because he can also play guard and potentially develop into a decent stopgap starter down the road there. He's probably a career backup in Atlanta, but could be a good career backup, comparable to what Brett Romberg was here.
Because of his ability to add depth at two or more positions, Baxter probably could go off the board as a fifth round pick and be a capable pickup. Although ideally, you'd prefer to get him in the sixth or seventh round because you're not completely sold if he has starting upside.
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite
Pass Blocking: 3.0
Run Blocking: 3.0
Mean Streak: 3.5
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.