Replacing the Badger
This offseason, the Cardinals were so high on second-year safety Budda Baker that they were willing to let the immensely talented Tyrann Mathieu walk out the door and right into the Houston Texans’ locker room. But so far, it appears Arizona may have made a wise decision.
Baker was plenty active against the Redskins in Week 1, collecting four tackles in the first quarter alone and finishing the game tied with Josh Bynes for the team lead at 11.
In 55 plays lined up against Washington’s slot receivers, Baker held his own, earning a solid grade of 72.7, which is right on par with Mathieu’s Week 1 coverage grade of 77.1. He still has a lot to learn from Mathieu when it comes to forcing turnovers, though. In 17 career games, Baker has yet to haul in an interception.
Assuming he stays healthy and consistent with his level of play, Baker’s production should skyrocket as he continues to gain NFL experience. At this rate, it won’t be long before Baker is considered one of the top safeties in the league — which is great news for a Cardinals defense in need of more star power.
*Advanced statistics provided by Pro Football Focus
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