When the New York Giants selected DeAndre Baker in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft, they thought they were getting a soon-to-be lockdown corner. While that can very certainly still prove to be true, the former Georgia Bulldog standout struggled exponentially during his rookie campaign.
However, a change in schematics along with a growing comfort level down the stretch helped show glimpses of the player Baker can become.
The cornerback sat down in an interview recently to discuss his up and down rookie campaign, how he plans to improve in his second NFL season, his lofty goals, all while also picking the brain of an all-time New York Giants great.
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Victor Cruz & DeAndre Baker Sit Down For a 1-on-1
DeAndre Baker Wants to Become One of the Best
Baker made a few notable statements during his interview. For instance, when Cruz asked him “what is your biggest goal as a professional?” Baker responded that “I want to be a Hall of Famer.” Certainly a lofty goal by the Giants defensive back, however, as a fan of the game, you’d likely be more concerned if a player didn’t have those lofty dreams and expectations.
Yet, arguably the biggest takeaway from the interview and the most appealing for Giants faithful was when Baker flipped the script, making Cruz the interviewee. Baker was not afraid to ask questions, proving a willingness to learn and a want to do what it takes to potentially reach his lofty goals in the future.
Baker Improved Mightily Down the Stretch
Put aside Hall of Fame and Pro Bowl hopes for the moment, DeAndre Baker has a long way to go to simply live up to his first-round billing. However, if the latter part of 2019 was any glimpse of what’s to come for the Giants’ corner in the coming future, then expectations should be high.
Baker finished the season with an extremely poor PFF grade of just 48.4. However, the majority of those poor numbers have to do with his early-season woes, which occurred mostly when he was in zone coverage. However, following the team’s Week 11 bye week, the defense seemingly made a shift in philosophy, helping improve Baker’s play exponentially.
Throughout the final stretch of the season, Baker not only began to look the part of a first-round cornerback, but he also began to look like one of the better cornerbacks in the NFL, period.
The main reason for Baker’s improved play had much to do with the type of coverage the Giants asked their rookie corner to play. After playing predominantely in zone coverage for most of the early season, New York began to ask Baker to play more man-to-man coverage towards the end of the year. In return Baker’s play began to take off in the right direction.
Here’s a tweet posted by Pro Football Focus detailing Baker’s emergence ahead of Week 16 from this past season.
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