It took until the end of the first round of the NFL Draft, but a player from Miami-Dade County has finally been picked. Deandre Baker became the first Miami-Dade player to be picked Thursday when the New York Giants selected the All-American cornerback from the Georgia Bulldogs with the 30th pick in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft.
Baker, who played at Northwestern in Miami before heading to Georgia for college, became one of the nation’s premier lockdown corners as a senior in Athens. As a senior, Baker broke up nine passes and grabbed two interceptions. As a junior, Baker also broke up nine passes and hauled in three interceptions.
Baker’s journey started in the Liberty City neighborhood of Miami, which also was the home of NFL stars like Antonio Brown and Amari Cooper. He grew up playing for the Liberty City Warriors, the youth football team founded by 2 Live Crew’s Luther Campbell and the focus of Starz’s “Warriors of Liberty City,” and committed himself to the sport. Baker’s father recognized his son’s athletic potential early, Baker told Stack magazine, so Andre Baker had him do 200-300 pushups each day to train.
The defensive back actually primarily played running back through most of his football career before former Bulls coach Eddie Brown, Antonio Brown’s father, urged Baker to switch to cornerback for his junior season at Northwestern. The late position change kept Baker from being considered a can’t-miss prospect — he finished as a three-star cornerback in the 247Sports.com composite rankings for the Class of 2015 — but he contributed as a freshman for the Bulldogs and quickly developed into one of the Southeastern Conference’s best. Baker allowed only one touchdown catch in his career, starting 34 games, and won the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation’s best defensive back as a senior.