Potential Atlanta Falcons First Round Pick: Deandre Baker

Atlanta Falcons, Deandre Baker (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Atlanta Falcons, Deandre Baker (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /
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Atlanta Falcons
Atlanta Falcons, Deandre Baker #18 (Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images) /

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Deandre Baker was recruited to play for Georgia Football by former head coach Mark Richt. As a three star prospect he saw quite a bit of action his freshman year, playing in 11 games. Most of that action was on special teams, and one tackle was Baker’s only noteworthy statistical contribution. Coach Richt was let go following the season.

Deandre Baker showed significant improvement coming into his sophomore, year under the tutelage of current Georgia Bulldogs head man Kirby Smart. This earned him more playing time on defense. He dealt with injuries throughout the season, but managed to play in 12 games for the Georgia Bulldogs, starting seven of those contests. Baker played very well intercepting two passes and breaking up five others. He also had 31 combined tackles, including one tackle for a loss. In addition, Deandre also recorded one sack, forced one fumble and recovered one fumble.

Deandre Baker built on the momentum of his sophomore year and worked hard on his game to get even better. Those results paid off in a stellar junior campaign. Baker played in 15 games and started 14 of those contests for Georgia Football. He achieved a career high 44 tackles, with one tackle resulting in a loss. Also Deandre broke up a career high nine passes in coverage. Baker developed an even greater nose for the ball picking off three passes, again a new career high.

Deandre Baker began to receive recognition after his junior season. He was named as a Second Team All SEC selection, after being a big contributor on a Georgia Football team that fell just short of winning the National Title. The team was defeated 23-26 in overtime by the Alabama Crimson Tide. Baker had an interception in the game. Rather than turn pro, Deandre Baker decided to return to the Georgia Bulldogs for another shot at a National Title and a chance to improve his draft stock.

Staying in Athens was a wise decision for Deandre Baker. He did not get his national title as the Georgia Bulldogs fell short in the SEC Title game and failed to make the College Football Playoff. However Baker certainly improved his draft stock. Baker’s game elevated to the point where he became the best cornerback in the entire nation.

Deandre Baker started all 12 games he played in as a senior for Georgia Football. Despite playing three fewer games, Baker recorded just four fewer tackles, notching 40 stops on the season. He also made a career high two tackles for a loss and forced a fumble. Deandre tied a career high with nine pass breakups and intercepted two passes, despite not being targeted at a high rate. He would have had a pick six, had he not inadvertently dropped the ball prior to crossing the goal line against South Carolina.

Pro Football Focus gave Deandre Baker an overall grade of 89.4. He gave up just ten first downs, 175 yards and zero touchdowns as a senior. He also allowed a passer rating of only 40.2 when targeted. Baker was rewarded for his outstanding senior season by being named First Team All SEC. He also an Associated Press First Team All American. The highest honor that Baker received was the Jim Thorpe Award, naming him the best defensive back in all of College Football.

Controversially, Deandre Baker chose to sit out the team’s Rose Bowl matchup with the Texas Longhorns, opting instead to prepare for the NFL Draft. Baker had a stellar career at UGA. He posted a three-year Pro Football Focus coverage grade of 93.5, the second best of this 2019 draft class. He had an incredible 92.1 PFF grade against Power Five opponents in that time span. Deandre has not allowed a touchdown pass in the last two seasons and has only allowed one his entire career at UGA. He now enters the draft as a first round talent and one of the top cornerbacks in this year’s draft class.

Pro Football Focus spoke about the pro prospects of Deandre Baker courtesy of the PFF YouTube channel: