Jerome Baker committed to Florida as a high school player from Cleveland before changing his mind and signing with Ohio State.

He’ll be headed to the Sunshine State for the start of his NFL career. The Miami Dolphins selected Baker in the third round of the draft (73rd overall) Friday night. He was the second Buckeye taken Friday. Indianapolis picked defensive end Tyquan Lewis with the last pick of the second round.

Baker could play alongside former Buckeye Raekwon McMillan, who was taken with the Dolphins in the draft last year before his season ended with a torn ACL.

In fact, Dolphins general manager Chris Grier said that McMillan lobbied for Baker.

“We want to get faster on defense,” Grier said. “This kid has that. He’s a sideline-to-sideline linebacker. We had some inside info, obviously, with Raekwon being on the roster. Raekwon spoke very highly of him.

“And we had Denzel Ward in for a visit and he raved about the kid, talking about what kind of player and teammate he was.” 

Entering the 2017 season, Baker was regarded as a potential first-round pick, but he had an inconsistent year. He struggled — along with Ohio State’s other linebackers — in losses to Oklahoma and Iowa.

But he also showed his athleticism at other times, including in coverage against Penn State’s star running back Saquon Barkley. He had 16 tackles in the Big Ten championship game against Wisconsin.

Baker led the Buckeyes with 72 tackles (42 solo), including eight for loss, including 3½ sacks.

“I played all right — not to my standard,” Baker said at the NFL combine. “My standard is pretty high.”

His speed and explosiveness made him tantalizing to NFL teams.

“They always say they can see the potential,” Baker said. “I’m pretty much a raw player. I have so much technique to learn and so many things to learn. My ceiling is high. You can’t teach speed and you can’t teach instincts and you can see I definitely have those.”


The 16 Ohio State Buckeyes in the 2018 NFL draft, and those who were picked:

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