Javon Baker - WR - UCF

Javon Baker has been a late riser in the offseason process as more people get their eyes on him. He fell off the radar as he transferred from a blue-blood program in Alabama to an, at the time Group of Five team, the University of Central Florida. But that move proved to pay dividends.

Measurables

Height: 6′ 1″

Weight: 202 lbs

Age: 22

40-yard dash: 4.54s

3-cone drill: DNP

20-yard shuttle: DNP

Vertical Jump: 37″

Broad Jump: 10’1″

Bench Press: DNP

*age is at the start of player’s rookie year

College Stats

Receiving & Rushing Table
ReceivingRushingScrimmage
YearSchoolConfClassPosGRecYdsAvgTDAttYdsAvgTDPlaysYdsAvgTD
*2020AlabamaSECFRWR82157.500002157.50
*2021AlabamaSECSOWR11710114.41000710114.41
*2022UCFAmericanJR145679614.250005679614.25
*2023UCFBig 12SRWR1352113921.9700052113921.97
CareerOverall117205117.513000117205117.513
Alabama911612.91000911612.91
UCF108193517.912000108193517.912
Provided by CFB at Sports Reference: View Original Table
Generated 4/9/2024.

Notable Headlines

Javon Baker started as a low 4-star recruit per 247Sports who signed with the Alabama Crimson Tide. His first two seasons were quiet as he only accrued 116 total yards and one touchdown. Following his sophomore season and lacking a locked-in role in Alabama’s suddenly unproven wide receiver room, he decided to transfer to the University of Central Florida which was still in the American Athletic Conference.

That transfer turned out to be a great move as he led UCF in receiving yards, although fellow wide receiver Ryan O’Keefe led the team in receptions and total yards as he added some on the ground. It was truly a 1a/1b situation. But the following season, O’Keefe transferred out and left Baker to be the unquestioned WR1 on this offense as the team transitioned to the Big 12, a Power 5 Conference. Baker took advantage of his opportunity and delivered his first 1,000+ receiving yard season and First-team All-Big-12 honors.

Scouting Report

Positives

Javon Baker’s hands and ability to naturally catch the ball away from his body is something that stands out immediately. There are plenty of sideline grabs down the field where he shows off his ball-tracking skills and body control. Those are also traits that pair with his ability to extend and highpoint the ball to create an excellent contested catch player with over a 50% contested catch win rate in each of his previous three seasons in college. 

Baker provides enough speed downfield to be a legitimate deep threat. But he also provides versatility through his route running to be effective at all levels of the field. He shows a good understanding of how to utilize his frame to create leverage against DBs and get the DB on their heels with a fluid release at the line of scrimmage. Finally, he is a plus contributor with the ball in his hands after the catch.

Negatives

While Baker has good form and a knack for acrobatic and/or contested catches, he boasted an alarming drop rate. His drop rates in 2021 through 2023 were 12.5%, 12.5%, and 10.3% respectively. Those rates are near the top in the draft-relevant players in Baker’s class. Because he shows good form and is a natural hand catcher, the drops likely come mostly due to lapses in concentration.

Additionally, some effort concerns pop up on film. Some routes are lacking effort when he isn’t the first read, is running a decoy route, etc. And as a blocker, the effort is also generally lacking. Pairing that with not-great form and defenders blow by him with ease. Even when he does get locked up with the defender in blocking situations, a second effort is generally all that is needed. Lastly, there is a slight concern that he had to drop down to a G5 college (that did make the jump to P5 in 2023) to get playing time for his true Junior and Senior seasons.

Pre Draft Analysis

Expected Draft Capital- Round 4

Landing Spots

Javon Baker is quickly becoming an offseason darling and for good reason. He has a lot of exciting traits, but also some red flags that likely push him to the Late Day 2/Early Day 3 conversation. New England is a team that is desperate for playmakers. If they take a QB in the top 3 like they are projected, their new quarterback is going to need more than JuJu Smith-Schuster, DeMario Douglas, Hunter Henry, and the rest of the current pass catchers to support a rookie quarterback. Baker is a high-upside player who also provides already usable skills that could be exactly the player the Patriots need in the middle rounds of the draft.

Post Draft Analysis

New England Patriots – Round 4, Pick 10

Landing Spot

There is just a void that is present in the New England Patriots wide receiver room. Demario Douglas showed nice flashes as a rookie from the slot, but Kayshon Boutte and Tyquan Thornton have proven to be disappointing, JuJu Smith-Schuster seems like a likely cut candidate, Kendrick Bourne is just a guy despite some flashes throughout his career, and KJ Osborn is a role player at best. The Patriots can’t make the same mistake that they did with Mac Jones and refuse to surround him with enough talent to succeed. And they’re at least off to a good start by selecting Ja’Lynn Polk in the second round and Javon Baker in the fourth round. Both players have a legitimate chance to be day-one starters – mostly due to the lack of competition.

Fantasy Impact

As mentioned above, Javon Baker has a real chance at being a day one starter for the Patriots and it’s not out of the realm of possibility that he ends up as Drake Maye’s favorite target by the end of the season. Baker is a very talented receiver who fell to the fourth round, but there is a belief in his talent in the fantasy community that drives a lot of people to give him just as good of a chance at being the WR1 in this offense as second rounder Ja’Lynn Polk. The historical hit rates wouldn’t agree with that, but it’s something to consider when evaluating their talents. Regardless, there is a clear path for Baker to get on the field early and make an immediate impact with Drake Maye.

For Redraft leagues, Baker could be a fun late-round dart throw, but even though he has a clear path to targets he’s still just a rookie receiver. And generally, only the very elite receivers produce enough as rookies to be fantasy-relevant consistently. But for Dynasty leagues, Baker is the perfect type of dart throw in the middle of the third round of rookie drafts. The upside is there and managers will know in year one if he’ll make an impact. If he isn’t an impact player this year with the lack of target competition, it’ll be hard to envision that he becomes one down the line as the Patriots likely continue to add to the wide receiver core next offseason too.

As always, if you want something more specific to your league- reach out! You can find us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.