Sixth Round: 196th Pick
UCLA’s Jeff Baca projects as a mid-round prospect who has a good chance to make an early impact. Teams that run a zone-blocking scheme should see Baca as an excellent fit. He’ll likely still be on the board in the fourth round because he’s not the type of player who stands out on tape.
However, Baca’s overall reliable play is why he has a chance to force his way onto the field.
|+ Quickness off the Line||- Limited Strength|
|+ Good Inside Hands||- Lack of Scheme Versatility|
Height: 6’3” Weight: 302 pounds Arm Length: 34 ¼” 40 time: 5.03
UCLA counted on Baca to play several roles throughout his career. They routinely bounced him around from guard and offensive tackle. He was the guy they asked to switch positions every time there was an injury. This just shows that Baca is a true team player.
Baca doesn’t possess the overall strength to fit in a power-running system. His success is tied to his quickness off the ball and ability to seal the defender from the play. He’ll have the best chance to make an impact at the next level in a zone-blocking scheme.
The below image shows Baca’s problems generating a push off the ball. He just isn’t strong enough to fit in that type of game plan.
Because of his solid athleticism, Baca is able to hold up in pass protection. He does a good job keeping his pads down while also fighting to obtain inside hands. Baca features just enough lateral quickness to prevent pass-rushers from shooting through the gap.
This clip shows how Baca gains inside hands and uses a good arm extension to keep the defender off his frame.
As mentioned above, Baca isn’t a power player and will struggle to move bigger defensive linemen off the ball. This and his quick first step make him a much better fit for a zone scheme. Baca’s strength is his ability to quickly get into position, gain inside hands and seal the defender from the play.
Baca also does a good job climbing to the second level and disrupting the linebacker’s flow to the ball. The image below shows how Baca attacks the linebacker with balance.
Blocking in Space
For the guard position, Baca boasts the lateral movement needed to mirror the pass rush. He does a good job keeping his pads low, which plays a major role in his ability to react to counter moves.
However, he still lacks the overall fluidity to move outside and play tackle. Baca is strictly a guard prospect.
Gaining inside hand placement is a key to Baca’s success. He uses this to help him control the movement of the defender. This plays a role in both his ability to open running lanes and protect the passer.
This image is a great example of how Baca gets his hands inside the defender and extends his arms. The defensive player struggles to disengage, move toward the ball and gain position when Baca gets into his frame.
Baca’s ability to keep a low center of gravity helps him reset after the initial contact. This also aids Baca when reacting to the lateral counter moves employed by the quicker pass-rushers. His lack of raw strength increases the importance to playing with sound technique.
As I mentioned throughout this report, Baca works hard to maintain proper technique. His sound technique is the main reason he’s able to find success. This is mainly because Baca isn’t an elite athlete, nor is he overly powerful.
Baca’s NFL future is at the guard position in a zone-blocking scheme. He has a realistic chance to quickly develop into a starter. This is possible because of his commitment to using sound technique and understanding of the game.
Draft Projection: Fourth Round