The Atlanta Falcons have been linked to at least three offensive tackles (Taylor Lewan, Jake Matthews and Greg Robinson) in the 2014 NFL Draft, but even with that possibility firmly in place, the team has a significant investment in incumbent left tackle Sam Baker. In that vein, there is a positive update on Baker that could potentially impact some future plans for Thomas Dimitroff and company.
Baker, who missed 12 of a possible 16 games during the 2013 campaign, is close to receiving medical clearance, according to a report from ESPN.com’s Vaughn McClure. Baker had this to say about where he stands:
“I’m feeling good. In a couple days, I should be cleared. I’ve been running, doing everything, and I should get fully cleared in a couple days. It’s great, especially because we’re getting ready with the offseason stuff, to be able to get out with the offense and to be able to go back to doing plays and stuff like that.”
Regardless of where he lines up, it is vitally important for the Falcons to have Baker healthy and productive, especially given the sizable investment. The 28-year-old from USC is set to make more than $7 million in 2014, and even if Atlanta chooses to draft a tackle with the #6 pick, Baker would be penciled in as a starter on either side of the line.
To be frank, Baker wasn’t particularly effective even when he was on the field last season, but if he’s 100% healthy, he has proven that he can be an above-average left tackle, and if moved to the right side, he could be elite.