Sports Outside the Beltway

NFL Draft 2008 – Round 1 #21 – Atlanta Falcons – OT Sam Baker (via Washington Redskins)

NFL Draft 2008 Logo The Washington Redskins are on the clock with a surprising array of highly rated skill players to choose from.

The best player on the board would seem to be Illinois RB Rashard Mendenhall. They’re pretty solid at that position, though, with Clinton Portis and Laddell Betts on the roster. Sadly, they could use a safety after having their All Pro Sean Taylor murdered last year. But 21 is likely too high to take Kenny Phillips, the consensus best one on the board.

Their time is up and the winner is . . .


The Atlanta Falcons got the pick with just seconds on the clock and they’ve selected Sam Baker, OT, USC.

Scouts, Inc.: 49

Strengths: Possesses adequate height and size-potential. Feet are his best asset. He displays very good initial quickness as a run blocker and in pass pro. Gets set quickly and stays under control. Can mirror-and-slide with elite pass rushers and rarely gets beat by speed off the edge. His hand placement is outstanding. He shows very good awareness and rarely misses an assignment. Takes good angles as a run blocker and is technically sound in that facet of the game. Also does a good job of mixing in cut blocks to keep defenders off-balance.

Weaknesses: Lacks ideal bulk. Has short arms (32.6 inches) and small hands (9.2 inches). Too much of a finesse blocker. Plays with a narrow base and would benefit from added strength in his lower-body. He’s not overpowering in the run game and he will struggle at times to generate a new line of scrimmage versus bigger, stronger DE’s. He works hard to sustain blocks but he doesn’t show enough of a mean-streak at times. Durability is suddenly a concern following arthroscopic surgery to remove loose cartilage in his left knee prior to 2007 spring practice and lingering hamstring injury that cost him playing time as a senior.

Overall: Baker arrived at USC in 2003 and redshirted his first year. He moved from guard to offensive tackle before the 2004 season, and went on to make 39 consecutive starts at left tackle over the next three years (2004-’06). As a senior in 2007, he played 10 games (all starts). He was a first team All-America selection as a junior (2006) and a second-team selection as a senior (2007). He missed three games in his last season because of a left hamstring strain. Baker also suffered a bone chip in his left knee in 2005; played through a left knee sprain in 2006 (which required arthroscopic surgery at the end of the season); and suffered a cracked rib before the 2007 season. Son of AFL commissioner David Baker, Sam Baker enters the NFL draft as a four-year starter from one of the top programs in college football. He possesses good agility for the position and generally will get in position as a run blocker and in pass pro. However, Baker is a bit of a finesse player that lacks explosive power and does not play with consistent leverage. He also has short arms and small hands. Baker struggled to stay healthy as a senior and did not make the necessary improvements as a result. He is no longer expected to be drafted in the first round but he should be off the board by the end of Round 2.

Rick Gosselin: 51st

This seems like a bizarre trade to me, to move up to take a 2nd round value.

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