New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton was eyeing up a linebacker as the 3rd round of the 2020 draft began. The Saints traded their 3rd spherical decide (88th overall), alongside with a 3rd rounder in the 2021 draft, to the Cleveland Browns to go up to the tenth alternative in the 3rd round. With the 74th total choice, New Orleans picked Zack Baun, a DE/LB out of Wisconsin.
Baun was predominantly a stand-up defensive close 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 confirmed outstanding athleticism and array when he dropped into coverage, exhibiting the form of flexibility that the Saints value in their defenders.
Effectively learning a new situation and handcuffed by the cancelation of offseason things to do and preseason games simply because of COVID-19 issues, some questioned how much the rookie would lead to the Saints in 2020. Present day spotlight appears to be like at those people contributions.
Inactive for the time opener versus the Buccaneers, Baun would see the 1st motion of his NFL occupation throughout a Monday Night highway decline to the Raiders in Week 2. He would enjoy just 28 snaps on unique groups through weeks 2 and 3, ahead of ultimately observing the area defensively for just one snap in Week 4 at Detroit.
Baun would see much more comprehensive defensive action in months 5 and 7, enjoying a put together 25 snaps in opposition to the Chargers and Panthers. He remained a steady member of the distinctive groups squads, but would not see a double-digit snap count on the defensive aspect yet again until Week 15 versus Kansas City. Baun played a season-higher 22 defensive snaps all through the frequent season finale at Carolina, then 19 in a Divisional Spherical loss to the Buccaneers.
Baun’s limited motion led to modest stats as a rookie. He concluded with 12 tackles, a single for a decline. Coaches would issue out his advancement all through the yr, which led to more actively playing time down the extend. He shown great power at the level of assault against the run and bought great press into the backfield as a move rusher.
Much too gentle to be an each and every down defensive finish at 238-Lbs., Baun’s fantastic pass hurry probable could allow for the team to go him to the edge on apparent passing downs. Baun has the athleticism and football IQ to be productive at linebacker as he carries on to find out the nuances of the position at the NFL amount.
The Saints missing setting up linebackers Kwon Alexander and Alex Anzalone this offseason, together with DE Trey Hendrickson. Zack Baun’s progress will be important for the continued success of the New Orleans defense in 2021.