DB Gary Baxter Solidifies RCB for the Ravens?

Baxter, the Ravens' 2nd round pick of the 2001 draft is sort of an enigma. His ability to play different positions may have cast an unfair light on his abilities. You see, he played for a terrible Baylor defense in his collegiate days & was the only threat they had defensively. <br><br>

Because he was such a huge threat, teams simply avoided him and picked on any of the other lesser players, usually blowing out their team with points of 40 or more at any given time.

Anytime you've got a guy who plays CB/S and he LEADS the team in tackles, that surely must bring to question the front four as well as the LB's in their defensive scheme.

But most importantly it also showcases the talents of this young man and his ability to impact a game on so many levels & in so many ways.

Considered at one point the 2nd best CB prospect in the nation before his senior season, Baxter's role was limited considering that teams simply chose not to throw directly at him the majority of the time.

Being the team player that he is, Baxter elected to switch positions from RCB to Safety so that he could become more involved in his team's success. The switch, while good for the team became a double-edged sword for Baxter's Pro career.

On one hand he surely can play multiple positions fairly well. He lead his team in tackles from the safety spot; that shows that he can tackle and he can be physical. But on the other hand it hurt his Pro status as teams had a hard time evaluating his ability to effectively play CB on the next level.

Given his hybrid status and an abysmal Baylor team, this certain first-rounder dropped to the end of the 2nd round and may have made the Ravens a very lucky team. Believe it or not, Baxter will be one of the major surprises for the 2002 season.

The rap on Baxter has been is suspect backpedaling capabilities & his perceived lack of speed. Most have him running a 4.5 with tight hips but that most certainly is not the case.

Currently Baxter's measurable attributes are 6`2, 207pds with a 4.3/40. Now tell me that these measurements aren't a D-back coaches DREAM! Baxter has been using the off-season to his advantage incorporating an innovative speed-training regime in Texas which has this determined young man bigger, stronger & faster than ever before.

You see, Baxter's know for his press-coverage and his physical style of play. He's never really been challenged so most experts simply believe that he can't do it because they've never seen him do it over a period of time.

But I don't believe that a player who in college was named All-Big 12 three times, was a semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award (Award given to the best DB in college football every year) and was offered a scholarship to Florida State after a blue-chip prep (high school) career as a D-back just ‘can't` back-pedal effectively.

That's right, Baxter could have been a Seminole but decided that he wanted to be a part of a building defense and make a name for himself in that regard. Too bad no one else thought to follow his example. He was the leader of the Baylor defense, that's right a DB.

He was also hands down the best athlete, one of the fastest, and also one of the stronger DB's in college football. (He can bench-press 300pds for reps)

The best thing that could have possibly happened to Baxter may very well have been his slipping to the 2nd round. It gave him the chance to develop and learn without the pressure of having to start right away.

This will give him an advantage over every single new DB from the 2002 draft in that he already knows the defense and has been given the time necessary to prepare for the Pro game even though he wasn't drafted as high.

In reality, had Baxter gone to a better school his potential says that he could have been as high of a draft pick as current #5 overall CB Q. Jammer with the Chargers. He's bigger, faster, and stronger than this guy so depending on what kind of career he'd have had at a blue-chip school he could possibly have had a better draft standing.

At the very least he could possibly have a better year arguably than most of the 1st round starting CB's from this year's draft and that's saying something. His size and physical style of play reminds you of McAlister. Although they are in two different classes Baxter should do far better than most are willing to give him credit. 

Teamed with All-Pro CB Chris McAlister, the Ravens CB tandem could possibly have one of the best combination of size & speed in the entire NFL. And perhaps the Ravens can and the end of the season say ‘job well done'.


(Pro is one of the talented individuals that hangs out at the Ravens Insider message board - http://citadel2.ezboard.com/bravensinsider .  Stop in and discuss this article with him and others).

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