TEMPE, Ariz. -- Most people would think this answer is obviously first-round pick Haason Reddick.
But when you look at where each individual draft pick fits on offense, defense or special teams, it starts to look like second-round pick Budda Baker could end up having the biggest impact for the Arizona Cardinals this season.
Reddick will be productive and very well may end up being the best draft pick from Arizona’s class this year, but he joins a pass-rushing unit that’s already quite stocked, so his role won’t be as significant as other draft picks -- most notably, Baker’s.
Baker could have more of an impact than Reddick in 2017 because, as a nickel cornerback, he could find himself on the field as much or more than any other rookie. Arizona plays sub-packages on 79 percent of its defensive plays, according to defensive coordinator James Bettcher. That means Baker will have plenty of opportunities to make plays, which he started to show his knack for during the first day of rookie minicamp, when he hauled in a diving interception.
Baker’s versatility in playing safety and nickel will be one reason why he could see the field more than other drafted rookies. And if injuries hamper the secondary like they did last year, Baker’s role will grow immediately and exponentially. With the Cardinals already down two starters, Baker will find himself thrust into the rotation quicker than if he was a rookie, say, in 2016. Should Tyrann Mathieu go down again, Baker could become the first-team nickel corner.
Baker has the skills and opportunity to make the biggest impact among drafted rookies.