New Orleans Saints mentor Sean Payton was eyeing up a linebacker as the 3rd round of the 2020 draft commenced. The Saints traded their 3rd spherical select (88th total), along with a 3rd rounder in the 2021 draft, to the Cleveland Browns to transfer up to the tenth option in the 3rd round. With the 74th general decision, New Orleans chosen Zack Baun, a DE/LB out of Wisconsin.
Baun was predominantly a stand-up defensive finish with the Badgers. He was an explosive edge rusher who experienced 12.5 sacks and 19.5 tackles for reduction as a senior. Baun also showed remarkable athleticism and range when he dropped into protection, displaying the variety of flexibility that the Saints price in their defenders.
Basically studying a new situation and handcuffed by the cancelation of offseason routines and preseason online games since of COVID-19 issues, some questioned how much the rookie would lead to the Saints in 2020. Present-day highlight appears at all those contributions.
Inactive for the year opener against the Buccaneers, Baun would see the initially action of his NFL vocation in the course of a Monday Night road reduction to the Raiders in 7 days 2. He would engage in just 28 snaps on exclusive teams throughout weeks 2 and 3, just before eventually looking at the industry defensively for 1 snap in Week 4 at Detroit.
Baun would see additional extensive defensive motion in months 5 and 7, participating in a put together 25 snaps against the Chargers and Panthers. He remained a reliable member of the distinctive groups squads, but would not see a double-digit snap depend on the defensive facet once more until eventually Week 15 in opposition to Kansas Metropolis. Baun performed a period-higher 22 defensive snaps through the frequent year finale at Carolina, then 19 in a Divisional Round reduction to the Buccaneers.
Baun’s constrained motion led to modest statistics as a rookie. He concluded with 12 tackles, one for a decline. Coaches would point out his advancement all through the year, which led to additional participating in time down the extend. He exhibited superior energy at the level of attack against the run and received awesome drive into the backfield as a pass rusher.
Too mild to be an each individual down defensive conclusion at 238-Lbs., Baun’s marvelous move rush opportunity could make it possible for the staff to transfer him to the edge on clear passing downs. Baun has the athleticism and football IQ to be helpful at linebacker as he proceeds to understand the nuances of the posture at the NFL amount.
The Saints dropped starting linebackers Kwon Alexander and Alex Anzalone this offseason, together with DE Trey Hendrickson. Zack Baun’s growth will be critical for the ongoing good results of the New Orleans defense in 2021.