Budda Baker

Draft Pick Signings: 5/25/17

The latest draft picks to sign their first NFL contracts:

  • The Cardinals have signed their second-round selection, former Washington safety Budda Baker, leaving first-round linebacker Haason Reddick as the only member of their seven-pick class without a contract. Baker, whom Arizona drafted after trading up from No. 45 overall to No. 36 in a deal with the Bears, closed out his college career last year with an All-America season, piling up 70 tackles (9.5 for loss), three sacks and two interceptions. He should emerge as the Cardinals’ long-term answer at strong safety, potentially giving the team an enviable tandem with Baker and free safety Tyrann Mathieu.
  • The Buccaneers have inked second-round safety Justin Evans to a deal, tweets FanRag’s Roy Cummings. With Evans under contract, the only one of the Bucs’ six picks who’s unsigned is third-rounder Chris Godwin. Evans, the 50th pick, played the previous two seasons at Texas A&M, breaking out as a playmaker in 2016 with four interceptions. The 6-foot, 199-pound Evans is an “extremely physical hitter,” per NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein, who notes that he has the makings of a “plus NFL starter.”
  • The Jets now have eight of their nine selections under contract, having signed third-round wide receiver ArDarius Stewart (first-round safety Jamal Adams is the lone straggler). The 5-11, 204-pound Stewart went 79th overall after emerging as a legitimate weapon at Alabama in 2015 and combining for 117 receptions and 12 touchdowns in his final two years with the Crimson Tide. Stewart now joins Quincy Enunwa, Robby Anderson and fourth-rounder Chad Hansen as intriguing Jets wideouts who are 25 or younger.
  • The Titans have signed the 155th overall pick, fifth-round linebacker Jayon Brown. The ex-UCLA Bruin ended his college tenure in 2016 with career highs in tackles (119), tackles for loss (7.5), interceptions (three) and sacks (two), though Zierlein pegs the 6-foot, 231-pounder as an undersized player who “lacks the functional strength to become anything more than a sub-package cover linebacker.”
  • The Vikings have finally gotten to work on signing their 11 picks, having come to terms with fifth-round receiver Rodney Adams (No. 170 overall) and seventh-round defensive end Ifeadi Odenigbo (No. 220), per Matt Vensel of the Star Tribune. Formerly with both Toledo and South Florida, the speedy Adams is likely to make an impact as a kick returner and/or a fourth or fifth receiver early in his career, according to Zierlein. Odenigbo, meanwhile, was a prolific sack artist at Northwestern, where he took down opposing quarterbacks 23 times over four seasons – including a personal-best 10 in 2016.

Cardinals Acquire 36th Pick From Bears

The Bears will trade back from the 36th overall pick, reports Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). The selection will go to Arizona in exchange for the Cardinals’ second-, fourth- and sixth-round picks this year and a fourth in 2018, tweets ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times has the exact details: Chicago will get the 45th, 119th and 197th selections this year, while the Cards will receive Nos. 36 and 221.

The Cards have selected Washington safety Budda Baker, who could help replace the departed Tony Jefferson. After Jefferson signed with the Ravens, the Cardinals added Antoine Bethea, who’s currently penciled in alongside star Tyrann Mathieu as a back-end starter.

Extra Points: Redskins, Allen, Steelers

The Redskins are high on Alabama defensive lineman Jonathan Allen, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (on Twitter). The Redskins currently own the No. 17 pick in the draft, so they’ll likely need to move up to get him. Then again, Allen might not make it out of the top five.

Here’s more news before the draft gets underway:

  • Washington defensive backs Kevin King and Budda Baker are on the Steelers‘ “radar”, according to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com. Pittsburgh has used early picks on secondary help over the past few seasons, as Artie Burns, Sean Davis, and Senquez Golson have all been added to the defensive backfield since 2015. Golson, however, hasn’t been able to get on the field due to injuries, and the Steelers could use more help in the back end. King would give the club a physical corner to play outside, while Baker can play deep safety and the slot.
  • Some folks in the Dolphins organization are really high on linebacker Haason Reddick, Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald hears. His fans in Miami believe that he can be a great weakside linebacker right off of the bat and they like his explosive pass rush skills.
  • An official from one team tells Matt Miller of Bleacher Report (on Twitter) that Gareon Conley will go in the first round.
  • Colts defensive lineman David Parry will avoid jail time after reaching a plea agreement this week, Stephen Holder of the Indy Star writes. Originally, he was facing felony charges stemming from a February arrest in Arizona. It remains to be seen whether he’ll face team or league punishment.

NFC Notes: Redskins, Cousins, Cook, Bears

Despite all the trade rumors that surrounded Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins earlier this offseason, the veteran signal-caller expects to spend the 2017 campaign in Washington. “I haven’t heard anything,” Cousins said today on ESPN’s NFL Live (link via John Keim of ESPN.com). “I’m not expecting anything to happen. And I’m looking forward to getting back to work with my teammates.” The Redskins are reportedly offering Cousins a five-year deal worth $20MM annually, but if a deal isn’t struck, Cousins will play out the season on his second consecutive franchise tag (at a cost of nearly $24MM). Cousins has already signed the tender, fully guaranteeing himself that salary for 2017.

Here’s more from the NFC:

  • The Redskins hosted Florida State running back Dalvin Cook today, according to John Keim of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Scouts are reportedly cooling on Cook due to character issues, and he didn’t post impressive numbers at the combine. But the production is there on film, and Cook is still expected to come off the board on Day 1. Rob Kelley and Chris Thompson formed a “thunder and lightning” attack for Washington in 2016, while Matt Jones and Mack Brown are also on the roster.
  • Utah offensive tackle Garett Bolles visited the Bears today, a source tells Matt Miller of Bleacher Report (Twitter link). Bolles, though slightly older than the typical NFL draft prospect (he’ll be 25 when the season begins), is now viewed as a top-20 selection and could even find his way into the top 10. Chicago isn’t in dire need of an offensive tackle, and Bolles almost certainly won’t be in consideration at pick No. 3. Charles Leno and Bobby Massie are set to man tackle for the Bears in 2017.
  • The Redskins are meeting with Washington safety Budda Baker today, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. Baker will subsequently meet with the Falcons later in the week. Although he’s small in stature (195 pounds), Baker “screams off the edge as a blitzer,” says Lance Zeirlein of NFL.com, who compares Baker to former NFL defensive MVP Bob Sanders. Baker will likely be a late first-round or early second-round pick.

Draft Rumors: McCaffrey, Cook, Melifonwu

Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey visited the Panthers last week, a source tells Jourdan Rodrigue of the Charlotte Observer. NFL executives reportedly believe McCaffrey will be a top-10 selection, and Carolina picks at No. 8. Panthers head coach Ron Rivera recently said no spot is “too high” to draft a running back, and veteran Jonathan Stewart‘s recent one-year extension won’t stop Carolina from bringing in another runner. PFR’s first mock draft has McCaffrey falling a bit farther, however, as we sent him to Philadelphia at No. 14.

Here’s more on the NFL draft:

  • The Bengals are hosting Florida State running back Dalvin Cook, according to Katherine Terrell of ESPN.com. Cincinnati is fully expected to select a running back in this year’s draft, and will likely do so on Day 1 or 2. Incumbent back Giovani Bernard is coming off a torn ACL, while Jeremy Hill hasn’t been effective recently and is entering the final year of his rookie deal. Cook, for his part, topped 1,600 yards and posted 19 touchdowns in each of the last two years with the Seminoles.
  • Missouri defensive end Charles Harris is heading to New York for a visit with the Jets, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. Harris, who put up 16 sacks over the past two seasons with the Tigers, probably won’t be in consideration for Gang Green at sixth overall, but he could be an option for the Jets if they trade back (or if he slips to the second round). So far, only the Titans are also known to have met with Harris.
  • The Panthers have visited with Alabama offensive tackle Cam Robinson, reports Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com (Twitter link). Carolina, of course, signed Matt Kalil to a hefty free agent contract to play left tackle, but the club may need help on the right side, as Michael Oher is still in the concussion protocol three months after the conclusion of the season. Robinson also has the capability to play guard, so the Panthers could draft him as insurance on internal options Trai Turner and Andrew Norwell, each of whom will hit free agency in 2018.
  • Washington safety Budda Baker recently met with the Steelers, as the club announced. Pittsburgh has spent a bevy of recent picks on defensive backs, as Senquez Golson, Artie Burns, and Sean Davis have all joined the team over the past two years. While the Steelers already boast a solid free safety in Mike Mitchell, he’s entering his age-30 campaign and will reach unrestricted free agency next spring.
  • The Dolphins have spent a “significant amount of time” with UConn safety Obi Melifonwu, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes. Melifonwu has drawn a good amount of interest from around the league during the predraft process, and one team — the Titans — may even view him as a cornerback. Miami recently extended Reshad Jones, but the club could use another safety now that Isa Abdul-Quddus has been cut following a back injury. T.J. McDonald is also in tow, but he’s suspended for the first half of the season.

Draft Notes: Chargers, Buccaneers, Jets

The Chargers have been connected to a number of quarterback prospects, including DeShone KizerPatrick Mahomes and Josh Dobbs. Current signal-caller, veteran Philip Rivers, understands why his team would start looking for an heir apparent. However, the 35-year-old was also adamant that he’s not looking to give up his role anytime soon.

“I think it’s to be expected they’re going to get a young guy in the room to try and develop him and groom him,” Rivers said (via ESPN.com’s Eric D. Williams). “It doesn’t by any means really affect me. I think it’s healthy for me. … This thing doesn’t last forever. I have to get to playing better and keep this thing going as long as you can.

“As long as I do that, then whoever it is they bring in here, they’re going to sit for a while.”

Rivers finished this past season with 4,386 yards, 33 touchdowns, and a career-high 21 interceptions.

Let’s take a look at some other draft notes…

  • The Buccaneers have shown interest in a pair of safeties, according to ESPN.com’s Jenna LaineObi Melifonwu (Connecticut) and Budda Baker (Washington). The organization is also eyeing wide receivers Chris Godwin (Penn State) and Rodney Adams (South Florida), offensive tackle Julien Davenport (Bucknell), running back Kareem Hunt (Toledo), and tight end Michael Roberts (Toledo).
  • According to Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com, Ohio State linebacker Raekwon McMillan didn’t show a whole lot of speed during his school’s Pro Day, but he looked solid in positional drills. The defender previously met with the Saints, and he had dinner with the Jets on Thursday night.
  • There were a number of offensive line coaches at Utah’s Pro Day, including staff from the Jets, Browns, Jaguars, and Lions. Offensive tackle Sam Tevi was impressive during the workouts, and the big man has drawn particular interest from both the Saints and Patriots.
  • Eastern Washington doesn’t have their Pro Day until early next week, but that didn’t stop some coaches from visiting their top prospects. The Cardinals and Buccaneers reportedly visited campus to work out defensive lineman Samson Ebukam. 

Draft Notes: Mixon, Tight Ends, Giants

A pair of notable college players will not be showcasing their talents at the NFL scouting combine. ESPN.com’s Adam Caplan reports that Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon and Baylor wide receiver Ishmael Zamora were not invited to the event.

Both players have had their share of issues. Mixon was suspended for the entire 2014 season after having punched a woman, while Zamora was suspended three games this past season after videos emerged of him beating his dog. The ESPN report indicates that it’s uncertain whether these “off-the-field troubles were factors in their omission” from the combine.

The Sooners running back finished the 2016 campaign with 1,274 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns on only 187 carries. ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. believes Mixon is among the top-five most-talented running backs in this year’s class (behind Leonard Fournette, Dalvin Cook, D’Onta Foreman and Christian McCaffrey). Meanwhile, Zamora appeared in 10 games this past season, compiling 63 catches for 809 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Let’s take a look at some more draft notes…

  • A trio of University of Washington defensive backs are garnering plenty of interest from NFL teams. Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com writes that Budda Baker, Sidney Jones and Kevin King have been intriguing front offices. Jones is generally regarded to be one of the top cornerbacks in the draft, while Baker is projected to be taken outside of the first round.
  • USC wideout Adoree Jackson is a “lock” to be a first-round pick, writes Pauline. His teammate, offensive tackle Zach Banner, is projected to be drafted in the fourth round.
  • While many scouts believe Alabama’s O.J. Howard is the best tight end in the class, Pauline writes that South Alabama’s Gerald Everett isn’t far behind. The talented playmaker impressed coaches at the Senior Bowl, and Pauline notes that he’s currently the top tight end on the Giants‘ draft board.
  • One prospect who didn’t look good during the Senior Bowl was Troy offensive tackle Antonio Garcia, with one scout comparing him to “a deer in headlights.” Pauline notes that the lineman looked unsure of himself during team practices.