As the NFL Draft approaches, Budda Baker hearing an increasing amount of comparisons to Earl Thomas -- so now he's enlisting the Seahawks' safety's help.
As the NFL draft evaluation process has heated up the past few weeks, former Washington and Bellevue High School product Budda Baker has heard increasing comparisons of his game to that of Seahawks star free safety Earl Thomas.
It is a comparison that Baker takes as the highest compliment possible, having long studied and admired Thomas.
“I love Earl Thomas, the way he plays the game,’’ Baker said. “Whatever he is doing he is always next to the ball, wreaking havoc.’’
A few weeks ago, though, the tables were turned. This time, it was Thomas taking a close look at Baker’s game.
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After deciding to leave Washington with a year of eligibility remaining and declare for the NFL draft, Baker signed with the same agent who represents Thomas, David Mulugheta of Athletes First (Baker said there was no connection with Thomas in the hire, Baker just liked Mulugheta).
The Athletes First group of players is working out in Laguna Hills, Calif., and a few weeks ago Thomas stopped by to pay a visit.
“He watched me do my DB drills and he helped me out with some little things and all that type of stuff,’’ Baker said.
Baker said his biggest takeaway from what Thomas told him had to do with what to watch on the field.
“Just a lot of eyes type of stuff when I’m breaking (on the ball),’’ Baker said. “He talked about in the NFL when you break you have to keep your eyes to the target first and then look for the ball because the quarterbacks are so good the ball is going to be out so fast you have to take your eyes to the receivers first.’’
Thomas is spending his offseason rehabbing from a broken tibia suffered against Carolina on Dec. 4.
But from what Baker could tell, Thomas is doing well.
“I feel like he is doing good,’’ Baker said. “He is walking, not on crutches, so he’s walking. I feel like he will be ready when the season comes.’’
It’s Baker who will do a lot of running Monday when the NFL combine concludes with on-field drills for defensive backs.
Baker already passed a little of a test earlier in the week when he weighed in at 195, three pounds more than the 192 he played at last season and above the 180 he is listed on his official profile on NFL.com (Baker took to Twitter a few days ago to note that he hasn’t weighed 180 since earlier in his UW career).
Baker, though, acknowledged he tried every trick in the book to try to make his weight — which along with his height of 5-9-5/8 is one of the few questions about his draft status — look a little better.
“I drank two water bottles just to be that 195 to look good,’’ Baker said.
“My ideal playing weight is 195 and I feel like I can make open-field tackles and do all that I can do at 195, so 195 would be my playing weight. That’s just a thing you always learn, you hear it all over social media, you hear all the littler guys try to drink a bunch of water and even bigger guys just to have a good-looking weight.’’
Monday Baker hopes to show he may have even more speed than scouts think, as well.
He said he’s hoping to run a low 4.4 in the 40-yard dash — he said his fast automatic time in the 40 is 4.42 though he did a 4.35 hand-timed at the UW combine last year.
“Maybe even get in the 4.3’s,’’ Baker said. “My teammate John Ross (who on Saturday set the combine record in the 40 with a 4.22) really inspired me. So that’s my goal.’’
Baker’s other goal is to run a time fast enough that it can stand through the rest of the process.
He plans to attend UW’s Pro Day this Saturday but might limit what he participates in based on what happens Monday.
“I’m planning on running a great 40 (Monday),” Baker said. “So I’ll probably just do defensive back drills.”