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Bolts take RB Baker with final selection
SAN DIEGO – The Chargers got Pro Bowl running back Ryan Mathews some backfield help Saturday, taking Edwin Baker in the seventh round with the 250th overall selection.
Baker, 5-foot-8 and 204 pounds, averaged 5.6 yards per carry during his Michigan State career before declaring as a junior. He earned first-team All-Big Ten honors in 2010 after rushing for 1,201 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Baker was fielding calls from a number of teams interested in signing him as a college free agent when the Chargers selected him with a compensatory pick at the end of the final round, putting a smile on the man known by many as “Rock.”
“As a kid, I was very young, my father gave (the nickname) to me. I couldn’t tell you why he did,” Baker said. “As I got older, it turned into many different things: my body structure, how hard I run, my toughness and my will not to quit, my will not to be broken down real easily.
“A rock doesn’t crumble under pressure and I’m not going to crumble.”
Baker, who split carries in 2011 with Le’Veon Bell, gives the Chargers another backfield option behind Mathews. Curtis Brinkley, and fullbacks Le’Ron McClain and Jacob Hester also can carry the ball.
Baker caught 15 passes at Michigan State, but has made developing as a receiver his top priority since helping the Spartans to a 33-30 victory over Georgia in the Outback Bowl.
“I’ve been working on my hands, my hand-eye coordination, being more focused on looking the ball all the way in, all the little things that make you a great catcher,” Baker said. “Talking to wide receivers to figure out different tips.”
A shifty runner, Baker clocked a 4.53-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine.
“I would say I learned to develop myself over the years as an in-between-the-tackles guy,” Baker said. “But as I was growing up, I was always a guy that got outside on the edge. Over the years playing football, I found myself hard to see in the backfield, so it’s easy to run between the tackles.”