With the No. 73 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Miami Dolphins picked linebacker Jerome Baker Jr. out of Ohio State. The Buckeye decided to declare for the draft early, but has plenty of experience. Baker was the “Next Man Up” for the team, contributing as a leader for the defense after the three Buckeye linebackers were drafted in 2016-17.
So, why should you be excited the Dolphins drafted Baker? We’ve got you covered:
1. He’s really, really fast
Baker might be one of the smaller LB prospects in this year’s NFL Draft class (see below), but his size also allows him to be one of the fastest. His official 4.53 in the 40-yard dash was good enough to finish No. 4 among the linebackers at the combine.
2. Baker isn’t a guy to worry about off the field
Even before joining the ranks at Ohio State, Baker was leading the charge as a student-athlete taking a stand against sexual assault and domestic violence. During his senior year in high school, Baker recruited other top athletes in the Cleveland area and put together a seminar to discuss how male athletes can step up to combat violence against women and make a pledge to stop it if they see it.
“It was unreal. Jerome got a group of athletes to pledge together to not condone or stand silent if they are aware of a woman or girl being physically, sexually or emotionally abused.” — Ty White, Baker’s mentor, via Tom VanHaaren, ESPN
3. He’s a tackling machine
The two-year starter for Ohio State notched 155 total tackles during the 2016 and 2017 seasons, and in four games claimed over 10 tackles — with a career-high of 16 total and 12 solo tackles in the 2017 Big Ten title game against Wisconsin. He finished his Buckeye career with 17.5 tackles for loss and 7.0 sacks.
4. He understands what it takes to be a LB in the NFL
Not only is Baker looking to be the next successful linebacker out of Ohio State, but he’s got some of the best in the league to look up to through those Buckeye connections. He’s had a chance to pick the brains of players like Ryan Shazier and Darron Lee, and knows what it’ll take mentally to handle the responsibility that comes along with playing the LB position in the NFL.
“I can do it all. I’m a leader. I’m comfortable calling the defense if I have to. I can change the defense based on the formation and looks we get from the offense. I think my football IQ is what makes me so great.” -- Jerome Baker via Justin Melo, DraftWire
5. He’s just trying to live his best life
Anytime you’re around Jerome Baker, you just want to smile. The kid is a ball of positivity, and knows that the opportunities he’s been afforded, both to play for Ohio State and now in the NFL, should be enjoyed each step of the way.
At his pro day workout, Baker kept repeating his new motto: “I’m just living my best life.” And with the dedication he’s proven to his teams in the past, along with his motivation to succeed at the next level, there’s no doubt that he’s going to make good decisions on and off the field, and have fun doing it.
Any concerns about Baker?
The biggest knock against the incoming NFL rookie is his size. At 6’1 and 229 pounds, Baker is on the smaller size for players at his position, but as others before him, he’s used that as a benefit rather than a hindrance. He did weigh in at 232 at Ohio State’s pro day, so putting on weight has seemingly been a priority for the Buckeye as he makes the transition.
So long as that extra weight doesn’t keep him from out-running opponents, he should be good to go for his rookie season.
Will Jerome Baker be a starting for the Dolphins as a rookie?
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