Jerome Baker Announces He Will Enter NFL Draft

Jerome Baker


Ohio State junior linebacker Jerome Baker announced on Monday that he would forego his senior season and enter the 2018 NFL Draft.

He released the news via Twitter.

Baker started for the Buckeyes for two seasons, recording 159 tackles and seven sacks between 2016 and 2017.

He stepped in for an injured Dante Booker in 2016 and played very well, creating the expectation that this would be his final season at Ohio State.

Baker led the Buckeyes with 72 tackles this past season, but admittedly had a slow start to 2017. He eventually graded himself as a C or C- for his play this year.

“Yeah, a lot of it was me being hard on myself. I set my expectations so high,” he said recently. “You just really try to strive for better every day and just sometimes it doesn’t go your way. There’s some plays I look back on and I know I could have done better and some games I know I could have played better. It’s more of I know what I can do. It’s not about the scheme, it’s just that I know personally what I’m capable of. Anybody else can say what they want, but I know that I could have gotten better.”

Baker is one of the best athletes to ever play linebacker at Ohio State, and has been compared to past Buckeyes like Ryan Shazier and Darron Lee.

“I never try to compare my game to other guys,” he said. “I try to be similar to other guys. Ryan Shazier, Darron Lee, those guys. Especially Ryan Shazier, I hope he’s doing well, but those guys I looked up to. I always try in some aspect mirror his game, but I never try to be exactly like him.

“My criteria is I always use three categories. The first is bad plays. The second is a good play, which you’re supposed to do. And third is a great play. Bad plays are bad plays. Bad eye discipline. Good plays are what you’re supposed to do. It’s not necessarily a great play, it’s just what you’re supposed to do. Great plays are plays like the one-handed catch in the spring game. That’s a great play to me. That’s how I grade myself, if I’m doing good, that’s what I’m supposed to do. So that’s not really excelling. That’s how I grade myself.”

The next step for Baker will be the NFL Combine in February where he is expected to perform very well and improve his draft stock.

Baker now joins junior cornerback Denzel Ward and fourth-year junior defensive end Sam Hubbard as NFL Draft early entrants from Ohio State. Running back Mike Weber has seemingly announced his return, and decisions are still coming from defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones and several Buckeye receivers.

We will have more in the coming days on how the Buckeyes will fill the void that Baker has left.


9 Responses

  1. Baker was the number 1 linebacker in all of college football at the end of last year. He played this year knowing he was going to NFL. He played defensively not to get hurt. Coaching had nothing to do with it, MONEY had everything to do with it. Baker is the most talented & athletic LB. i have seen in the last 35 years. He will totally dominate & blow the NFL combine away. Love to see him in Cleveland or Cincinnati!!!

    1. If money is the root of it, then his decision to enter the draft is-again- counter to that purpose given this year’s performance. Another year at OSU and improved performance would a) improve his draft stock resulting in more money first contract and b) improve his chances of staying with a team longer as a higher pick. I can’t be clear enough about this- I want him to succeed. The problem is that this specific choice harms his chances (definitely long term, arguably short term) rather than helps them. After he’s picked 3rd or 4th round I’ll vaguely recall some reason I needed to take notice, then move on to OSU’s Spring.

    2. Efhopper I do not know what the problem was with Baker this year, but I expected greatest for him this year and it never happened. Covering a running back or te on a pass play will not get you injured and many times he was no where to be found. Just do not know if he understood his assignments or not for the Buckeyes and will only get more difficult in the pro, but I wish him well.

  2. Doubt very much the NFL scouts grade him that low.

  3. Perhaps Jerome has exactly no confidence in the person trying to fill the linebacker coaching position. Last year he graded out as an easy A, and the potential to be drafted in the first 2 or 3 rounds. That the linebacker position was turned into a dumpster fire by a useless coach with no signs of improvement…………maybe his decision to leave before his talent is wasted away even further makes better sense? Jerome in 2016 was one of the most explosive linebackers in the Nation. SOMETHING happened from the end of 2016 to the present that caused a major collapse in a years time. Not likely it was the players. OMHO, CEO Meyer had better deal with the garbage level teaching from his buddy Bill Davis or things will decline into a complete disaster within 2 years.

    Best of luck Jerome.

    1. There was plenty lacking with whatever happened to the linebackers, but Baker was leaving regardless.

    2. Lawclub and James- this issue is one of my pet peeves. First, let me make it clear that I too wish Jerome the best of luck, even though luck will have little to do with what happens to him in NFL in terms of his actual performance.
      James, PLENTY of Buckeye players have come out early despite having stellar position coaches, and plenty have come out after being under the tutelage of coaches who are less than stellar. I’ll also point out that the NFL is a production league rather than an instructional league. The odds are overwhelming his choice had nothing to do with quality of coaching, and everything to do with a money grab. Now that that’s on the table, I think there’s nothing wrong with a wise pursuit of cash. The problem is this choice is not wise…
      Lawclub, despite the fact that I think the NFL is a declining and unwatchable mess, I do pay attention to where Buckeyes get drafted- then, I quickly forget about it and worry about the next OSU season. You will see soon how NFL people grade Jerome, and the odds are again overwhelming that you will be surprised at his middling draft status. You (and others) will think something like, “Man, I thought he’d go higher than that” followed quickly by something like, “He left lots of money on the table”. Again, by waiting one year and getting more experience and (hopefully) turning in better performances, Jerome would have earned MORE at the draft, which is directly in line with the money grab theme. If the player in question is a first round pick the money math- and the odds- work out. If not, its dicey at best. I’m not disputing his prerogative to leave. I’m merely pointing out that in his case- and likely a few others to follow- its counterproductive to the financial motivation to the decision itself. Like the kid, don’t like the choice. You know, maybe “good luck” is the best advice after all…

  4. Well, there’s the first “not ready for the NFL” Buckeye to declare. He gives himself a “C” or “C-” for his play against COLLEGE players then declares for the draft? What could possibly go wrong with this decision? I hate this, he’s hurting himself.

    1. Totally agree–makes no sense–grade yourself a C at this level and try and turn pro early….I wish him the bets but some player’s decisions are a little baffling…

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