LB Jerome Baker, Ohio St.

6’1″ – 229 lbs. – 4.53

Worked into the defense in a reserve capacity as a true freshman, then became a full-time starter in the second week of his sophomore season, reprising that role as a junior before foregoing his senior season in order to declare for the draft. Weakside linebacker with adequate height and bulk for the position, but who might be too small to play in an odd defensive front. Greatest asset as a player is his athleticism. Fast, smooth linebacker who has the range to play sideline-to-sideline in pursuit and who looks comfortable sticking with opponents running patterns across the field in man coverage or dropping into zone coverage. Able to get depth on his drops with quick feet. Dangerous with the ball in his hands; scored a defensive touchdown on an interception as a sophomore and a fumble recovery as a junior. Speed also allowed him to function as an effective pass-rusher on occasion. However, at this point is something of a project whose instincts lag behind his athletic ability, constraining his production. Generally flows toward the ball when defending the run, but has a tendency to overrun spots and take himself out of plays. Run fits when playing between the tackles are questionable. Can get preoccupied with taking on blockers and struggle to locate the football. Tends to use his body rather than his arms to engage blockers, preventing him from being able to play off of them successfully. Feel for zone coverage also leaves something to be desired. Easily manipulated by opposing quarterbacks, causing him to get pulled away from his man. Consequently, seems like a better fit for simpler man-coverage assignments which would highlight his athleticism. Some teams may also have temperamental concerns about him. Pile inspector who prefers to delegate tackling duties to other teammates in the area. Doesn’t always go one-hundred percent when working in backside pursuit. Reasonable tackler with a wide radius but is much more of a finesse linebacker than the type of physical tone-setter some teams look for. Seems bound to be a polarizing prospect who some evaluators could fall in love with because of his effortless athleticism and every-down potential, but who might alienate others because of the lack of physicality and aggression in his game. Might have benefited from returning to school and further honing his instincts/play recognition skills, but nonetheless stands a decent chance of going on the second day.

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