When the New York Giants drafted defensive back DeAndre Baker out of Georgia with the 30th-pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, the team hoped they had just landed a future lockdown defender and one that could eventually replace Janoris Jenkins as the team’s top corner.
While Jenkins was eventually given the boot midway through the 2019 regular season, it had little to do with Baker’s on-field success, as high-points in Baker’s rookie campaign were few and far between. Recent reports have shed some light on why that may have been.
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DeAndre Baker Fell Asleep During Meetings
Jordan Raanan recently took part in ESPN’s “How 2019 NFL first-round draft picks fared, what’s in store in 2020” column where NFL Nation reporters grade every pick and evaluated their future outlook.
Raanan’s evaluation of Baker was clearly not the most glowing, as he graded Baker at the lowest possible scale of has lot to prove.
“Baker’s rookie season was rocky, to say the least. At one point, he got called out in a team meeting, and his seven touchdowns allowed as the nearest defender was tied for fourth in the NFL, per Next Gen Stats.”
However, the most revealing and detrimental news Raanan broke was that Baker had struggled not only on the football field but in the classroom as well, commonly falling asleep during team meetings.
“There are questions about Baker’s desire to be great. Sleeping in meetings was not uncommon.”
Baker Showed Promise Down the Stretch
While there’s no denying that Baker’s rookie season was a disappointment, he did at least pick things up during the latter part of the year, leaving hope that he can eventually live up to his first-round billing.
Baker graded extremely poorly according to Pro Football Focus for the 2019, earning a horrendous PFF grade of just 48.4. However, the majority of those poor numbers came prior to the team’s bye week, when they were asking Baker to play in zone coverage the majority of the time, something he clearly struggles in.
Following the team’s Week 11 bye week, New York decided to shift philosophies, allowing Baker to play more man-to-man coverage, leading to him flashing the skillset that earned him the 2018 Jim Thorpe Award for College Football’s top defensive back. PFF took to their Twitter in late December to acknowledge Baker’s growth down the stretch of the season.
Baker Appears Ready to Make Changes
It’s clear Baker will need to make drastic changes in his preparation if he has any hope of becoming the type of player that he and the Giants both hope he can be. Yet, if this video of the cornerback’s sitdown with Victor Cruz is any indication, he’s well on his way.
Below is a snippet of our breakdown of the video from February.
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.