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Jerome Baker taken No. 73 overall by the Miami Dolphins in the 2018 NFL Draft

One of the most athletic linebackers in the country is headed to the NFL.

Michigan v Ohio State Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images
Matt Tamanini Matt Tamanini is the co-managing editor of Land-Grant Holy Land having joined the site in 2016.

One of the three Buckeyes to declare for the NFL Draft early, linebacker Jerome Baker has made that decision pay off, as today, he was selected by the Miami Dolphins in the third round with the No. 73 pick.

In his three seasons as a Buckeye, the Cleveland native accounted for 158 tackles, including 17.5 for loss. A two-time All-Big Ten honorable mention by both the conference’s coaches and media, Baker seems to step up under the brightest of lights. He had a 68-yard interception return for a touchdown against Oklahoma in 2016, and had a career-high 16 tackles against the Wisconsin Badgers in the 2017 Big Ten Championship Game.

Baker’s game is defined by his speed and athleticism. At 6’1, 225 pounds, he should benefit from putting on muscle via an NFL lifting regimen. However, his natural abilities allow him to limit the production of offensive skill position players; as he was instrumental in doing against this draft’s No. 2 pick, Penn State running back Saquon Barkley. He also has the ability to cover receivers in space.

However, his relative lack of strength means that it is difficult for him to shed blocks, and powerful ball carriers can break solo tackle attempts from Baker. That being typed, his speed allows him to compensate for a lot of the deficiencies that he had in college, and hopefully will improve upon in the pros.

Congratulations to Baker as he takes the next step in his playing career.