He was on the official 2006 watch list for the Lombardi Award and the Outland Trophy for the best lineman and an Athlon 2006 preseason All-American. In his collegiate career Baker blocked for Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart. He was named to the 2005 and 2006 coaches and rivals.com All Pac-10 team First Teams. He was a 2006 CBS Sportsline and FWAA first-team All-American, rivals.com second team All-American and SI All-American honorable mention.
Going into his fourth year as a starter, Baker was a 2007 Athlon, Sporting News, Street & Smith, Lindy's, Phil Steele's, CBS SportsLine.com, Scout, Blue Ribbon and NationalChamps.net preseason All-American and on the Lombardi Award and Outland Trophy watch lists. He was ranked as one of the "Top 20 Players Heading Into 2007" by Sports Illustrated. Before his final season in 2007, Baker was already regarded by most NFL scouts as a certain top-five player in the 2008 NFL Draft.
During the 2007 season, Baker took on a leadership role in the offensive line, taking over the reins from departed senior Ryan Kalil and providing motivation as well as helping teach younger players.
Despite suffering from injuries that held him out of games, Baker was again selected for the All-Pacific-10 Conference first team, his third consecutive year. Baker was also named Walter Camp First Team All-American in 2007, and the SI.com All-American Second Team.
Sam Baker was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons in the first round (21st overall) of the 2008 NFL Draft after the Falcons traded two of their second-round picks (No. 34 and No. 48) and a fourth round pick (No. 103) with the Washington Redskins to move to No. 21 overall. On July 25, he signed a multi-year contract. In his rookie year, 2008, Baker started 5 games. On March 13, 2013, Baker re-signed with the Falcons for six years worth $41.5 million, including $18.25 million guaranteed.