At the outset of the second round, the Arizona Cardinals were reportedly involved in trade rumors that suggested the team was interested in moving up in the draft.
Those rumors came to fruition early on Friday evening, as the Cardinals made a move to solidify their defense for the second night in a row by adding Washington safety Budda Baker with the 36th overall pick.
At 5-foot-10 and 195 pounds, Baker played three seasons at the University of Washington where he excelled as a hybrid defender in the Huskies’ defensive backfield. Baker has the versatility to play both safety and nickel corner, and should help the Cardinals as an immediate impact contributor considering the franchise lost both Tony Jefferson and D.J. Swearinger in free agency.
During his three-year career with the Huskies, Baker recorded 199 tackles, 13.0 tackles for loss, 4.0 sacks, five interceptions, 18 passes defended and three forced fumbles. Baker was a key member of a Huskies’ secondary that featured fellow second round draft pick Sidney Jones who went to the Green Bay Packers with the 33rd overall selection.
At the NFL Combine, Baker recorded a 4.45-second 40-yard dash, a 6.76-second time in the 3-cone drill and a 4.08-second 20-yard shuttle which were some of the strongest marks for any safety that tested.
In order to move up in the draft and take Baker, Arizona traded its second round selection, fourth round pick, sixth round pick and 2018 fourth round pick to the Chicago Bears in exchange for the rights to the 36th overall pick and the Bears’ 2017 seventh round pick.
Cardinals’ general manager Steve Keim had the luxury to make a move up in this year’s draft because the franchise is anticipating to receive multiple compensatory selections in the 2018 NFL Draft after Arizona lost a slew of key defensive players to free agency this offseason.
The Cardinals did not have a second round selection in 2016 after trading away the pick to the New England Patriots in exchange for pass rusher Chandler Jones. The last time Arizona drafted a player in the second round was in 2015, when Keim selected Missouri edge rusher Markus Golden with the 58th overall selection.
Under Keim, the Cardinals have selected defensive players in the second round on three separate occasions, with the team drafting Baker, Golden and former Arizona linebacker Kevin Minter (2013). The only offensive player Arizona has selected in the second round under Keim was Notre Dame tight end Troy Niklas who was chosen back in 2014.
Baker is the second defensive player the Cardinals selected in the first two rounds of this year’s draft, as the team added Temple’s Haason Reddick with the 13th overall pick Thursday evening.
The Cardinals are expected to make one more selection on Friday evening as the team holds the 77th overall pick in the third round of the draft.