Budda Baker is No. 3 safety in NFL in new rankings

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Arizona Cardinals safety Budda Baker has been recognized as a Pro Bowler the last two seasons and an All-Pro this past season. Even still, in recent safety rankings from Pro Football Focus and Touchdown Wire, he is either noticeably low or absent.

However, in new rankings by ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, based on votes from players, coaches and executives, Baker is right where he belongs.

He is No. 3 behind Minkah Fitzpatrick of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Justin Simmons of the Denver Broncos.

Baker made the biggest jump of any safety from last year’s list, vaulting from No. 9 to No. 3.

“Everyone loves this guy. You won’t find anyone in the league who doesn’t admire his game,” an AFC defensive coach said.

Evaluators routinely call Baker a “rocket” or a “bullet” for his ability to thump ball carriers. His 441 total tackles over four years are a byproduct of instincts and effective blitzing.

The knock was on-ball production, but Baker got his first two career interceptions in 2020 along with a 14.6% ball hawk rate. He’s not a deep-field safety of Simmons’ caliber, but he has shown the ability to cover.

“He’s unbelievable,” an NFC offensive coach said. “He’s a lot like Adams, but I think he’s slightly better in coverage, which gives him the edge.”

He ranked as high as No. 1 and only as low as No. 5 among those who were polled.

While his game might not get that much love analytically, it is clear that the NFL appreciates and values what he offers on the field.

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