- A closer look at the Chargers' picks: Round 7/250 - Edwin Baker, RB, 5-8, 204, Michigan State...The team's final pick went for depth, as Baker could be in line to back up Ryan Mathews. - The Sports Xchange
Full *Edwin Baker News Wire
Baker was highly sought after out of high school and was considered a top-20 running back recruit, choosing Michigan State over Michigan, Texas and Georgia. He took his redshirt off mid-way through the 2009 season as a true freshman and played in eight games, finishing with 427 yards on 85 carries (5.0) and one touchdown. Baker had his best season in 2010 as a sophomore with 12 starts, recording a team-best 1,201 yards (third-best in Big Ten) on 207 attempts and 13 scores, earning first-team All-Big Ten honors. He shared the starting running back duties with Le'Veon Bell in 2011 as a junior (8 starts), finishing second on the team with 665 yards on 170 carries (3.9) and five touchdowns, adding five catches for 60 yards (12.0) and 1 score. After the season, Baker surprised many with his decision to make the jump to the NFL a year early.
Baker burst onto the scene as a true freshman and emerged in 2010 when he took over the starting running back role, rushing for over 1,200 yards with 13 touchdowns. But he took a step back in 2011, losing grasp of the role as the featured runner with only two games of more than 15 carries.
He doesn't have prototypical size and build, but he packed muscle onto his frame and runs with pop. Baker's decision to go pro went under the radar, but NFL teams are fully aware of his game-changing initial burst and quickness -- an ideal change-of-pace back who could thrive in the right secondary role.
Strengths: Has a smaller, compact build with adequate thickness throughout his frame. Has shifty footwork with the natural burst and lateral quickness to make defenders miss and turn upfield in a hurry -- tough to tackle in space. Possesses agile feet with the patience, balance and vision to sidestep and elude defenders -- nice job following his blocks and working well in tight areas. Physical at the point of attack and keeps his feet moving through contact to fight and squirm through tackles. Was productive in East Lansing, finishing third in the Big Ten in rushing in 2010, and is a confident and ambitious player.
Weaknesses: Lacks elite size for the position and looks maxed out physically -- also carries some durability concerns. Has short legs with only average top-end speed and can be caught from behind. Not the most instinctive runner and too often tries for the big play, dancing and losing yards. Lacks the natural power to push the pile and feels more comfortable avoiding contact. An inconsistent receiver out of the backfield with suspect concentration and limited experience (only 15 receptions in his MSU career). Needs extensive work as a blocker in the backfield, struggling in pass pro. Also has ball security questions with some costly fumbles over his career. Wasn't nearly as effective in 2011, sharing the running back duties with Le'Veon Bell this past season and struggled to match his production from 2010 -- only one 100+ yd game as a junior after five such performances last year.
NFL Comparison: Javon Ringer, Tennessee Titans
-- Dane Brugler