Projecting Javon Baker’s stats with the Patriots in 2024 

Baker wasn't the first receiver the Patriots drafted, but he will be the best one they drafted.
UCF v Oklahoma
UCF v Oklahoma / Brian Bahr/GettyImages

Mark Twain might have had his tongue firmly in his cheek when he proclaimed, “All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence; then success is sure”. Although it certainly seems true in politics.

Former Crimson Tide receiver Javon Baker can’t be ignorant (so he can’t go into politics then), but he’s definitely got bundles of confidence. Back in April, the 22-year-old hit the headlines with an expletive-laden rant about his draft position

Javon Baker's confidence is spot on seeing his talent on the field

He insisted there aren’t 10 better receivers than him in the country. He does have a point there, but even if he didn’t, he is now determined to prove the teams who passed on him wrong.

Extra motivation is a beautiful thing. But when it’s combined with the exceptional level of talent Baker has it’s a tantalizing prospect, just like the man himself. 

Baker may have been selected two rounds later than Ja’lynn Polk, but it’s difficult to see why, especially based on their 2023 statistics. Polk averaged a respectable 16.8 yards per catch as a sophomore in Washington, but Baker averaged 21.9, even Marvin Harrison Jr. only averaged 18.1! 

Polk may well become a star in the future when the Patriots have a stronger offensive line and their young quarterbacks have settled in. But Baker is set to have an immediate impact, and here's why. 

Baker is a high energy player with production to match

His footwork allows him to get a jump on defensive backs in man coverage as soon as the ball is snapped. The Atlanta native has the ability to create a free release with his change of direction just like Davante Adams

Baker even ran a similar 40-yard time to Adams, he clocked a 4.54 compared to Adams’ 4.51. They’re also both listed at 6-foot-1 inches tall, but Baker is 10 pounds lighter than Adams.  

Unsurprisingly, with 10 pounds of extra muscle, the Raiders’ number one receiver is more explosive; he outperformed Baker in both the broad jump and vertical jump.  

Patriots' offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt was the quarterbacks coach in Green Bay when Adams was drafted in the second round by Eliot Wolf. So they must both see similar potential in Baker as they did in the Fresno State standout.

Spoiled for choice

The question is how Alex Van Pelt will use both newbies. They both have experience lining up in the slot, but the Patriots already have JuJu Smith-Schuster and DeMario Douglas. Even Jaheim Bell could occasionally find himself lining up in the slot.

Presumably, the Patriots coaches see Polk as more of a Kendrick Bourne-type receiver, so he should line up on the outside more often. But Baker will bring an extra level of competitiveness to the team; they have to get him on the field regularly, too.

Alex Van Pelt didn't have a Javon Baker-type receiver during his time in Cleveland, but he did have David Bell. Bell is very good at finding spaces in defenses, and he played 31 games for the Browns while Van Pelt was the offensive coordinator.

Bell only started six of those games, though, but he caught 65.5% of his targets, averaging 10 yards per reception. The 2024 Patriots don't have an Amari Cooper-type receiver who will dominate the target share, so Baker figures to see more than the 5% of targets Bell saw. 

What does the future hold?

So, Baker must see more than 29 targets Bell averaged each season under Van Pelt, but he’s still likely to be the fourth receiver. As a very rough comparison (because Van Pelt was not calling the plays back in 2014), Davante Adams caught 38 of 66 targets for 446 yards as a rookie. 

You can expect the former UCF Knight Baker to see 68 targets and catch 43. He will make the most of his catches, though; he'll rack up about 634 yards with eight touchdowns. 

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