The New York Giants completely rebuilt their defense in the 2019 offseason. Their secondary received a complete retooling in the 2019 NFL Draft. The Giants selected three cornerbacks in this year’s draft (four if you include Sam Beal), including one talented corner in the 1st-round.
New York traded up into the back end of the draft to select the draft class’s first cornerback. The Giants traded up with the Seattle Seahawks to acquire the 30th overall pick and draft Georgia cornerback DeAndre Baker.
DeAndre Baker is a talented defensive back with advanced playmaking abilities. Combined with Janoris Jenkins, Baker and Jack Rabbit could be an elite duo. Janoris Jenkins is a proven veteran, but Baker is an unproven rookie that has star potential.
Elite Ball Skills
DeAndre Baker is a true playmaker. According to NFL Analyst Lance Zierleine, Baker has good timing on jump balls and aggressive and accurate swipes at the catch point. These skills allow DeAndre to make plays on the ball that lead to pass breakups and interceptions.
In three seasons with the Georgia Bulldogs, DeAndre Baker totaled 7 interceptions. He also added a whopping 23 passes defended. Here is a clip of Baker perfectly timing and breaking up a clutch jump ball versus Louisiana State University:
Giants fans who watched the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine should be well aware of Baker’s playmaking ability. During defensive back drills, DeAndre showed off his reflexes and strong hands while running the gauntlet. He cleanly caught every pass that came his way without using his body.
Physicality That More Than Makes Up For His Smaller Stature
Some scouts might have considered DeAndre Baker to be undersized, causing him to fall to the end of the 1st-round. He stands in at 5 feet 11 inches while weighing only 193 pounds. His thing frame might cause him to be a mismatch against larger receivers (like Julio Jones or Michael Thomas), but his physical playstyle truly makes up for this.
Baker was an exceptional tackler in college. He posted 30 or more solo tackles in both his junior and senior season. Altogether, DeAndre had a total of 116 combined tackles in his collegiate career.
Check out this clip of DeAndre Baker being physical at the point of attack and knocking the ball loose to save a touchdown:
A Lockdown, Coverage Cornerback
Practically no one was able to score on DeAndre Baker during his college career. In his four-year career, Baker allowed just one TD on 1,019 coverage snaps. In fact, receivers were not only unable to score on Baker, but they could not even move the chains on Baker.
DeAndre Baker allowed all of 10 first downs all season. He topped all cornerbacks in this year’s draft, allowing only 0.46 yards per coverage snap in 2018.
According to Pro Football Focus, Baker played almost exclusively outside in 2018, with 657 of his 711 defensive snaps in 2018 coming at either left or right cornerback, and only 18 snaps in the slot and 36 in the box. But this is exactly what the Giants need. A true, shutdown cornerback on the outside.
DeAndre ranked in the top-five in terms of fewest yards allowed (175), fewest touchdowns allowed (0) and lowest NFL passer rating allowed (40.2) among cornerbacks who saw at least 300 coverage snaps in this draft class in 2018.
DeAndre Baker is a dominant cornerback in coverage. He has the instincts and ball-skills to shut receivers down at the NFL level. The New York Giants were in need of a shutdown cornerback and it looks like they have finally found one in DeAndre Baker.