The Arizona Cardinals kept their attention on the defense on Friday, trading up nine spots in the second round to select safety Budda Baker of Washington.
The comparisons to Tyrann Mathieu were immediate.
Mathieu himself tweeted “Young Savage.”
Baker is muscular, instinctive, quick, 5-foot-10 and 192 pounds.
“Along the lines of Tyrann Mathieu, I feel like I can bring versatility,” Baker said in a conference call. “I feel like I can play strong safety, corner, nickel. I’ve shown a lot of stuff on film. I’m able to read the quarterback, make certain tackles, open-field tackles and all that type of stuff. I feel like you guys are getting a great athlete.”
The move adds depth to a position depleted by the loss of safeties Tony Jefferson and D.J. Swearinger to free agency. And safeties are critical in Arizona’s defensive scheme.
It’s the second time in as many selections that Arizona has gone for defensive versatility.
The Cardinals’ first-round pick, Haason Reddick, picked at No. 13, can play inside or outside.
Earlier Friday, Reddick was introduced at a news conference at Cardinals headquarters and called Arizona “heaven on earth.”
In a trade with Chicago, the Cardinals moved from the 45th overall to 36th to draft Baker. To do that, they gave the Bears their second-round pick (No. 45), fourth-round pick (No. 119) and sixth-round pick (No. 197). Chicago also gets Arizona’s fourth-round pick next year.
As part of the deal, the Cardinals get the Bears’ seventh-round pick this year (No. 221).
Baker talked about his mother, Michelle, whom he described as a cancer survivor who is fighting Crohn’s disease and diabetes. When he hears players complain, he said, he gets angry because he believes that work is nothing compared with what his mother goes through.
“She is the rock in the family, the foundation,” Baker said. “She’s what makes everything tick.”
Baker said she was so happy to see her son stay out West.
“She was definitely crying,” he said.