LB Zack Baun, Wisconsin

6’3” – 235 lbs.

Posted 15 tackles and 3.5 TFL as a freshman, then sustained a foot injury during camp the following year which caused him to miss his sophomore campaign. Took over as a starting outside linebacker the following year and went 63-7.5-2.5 with an interception before breaking out as a senior, a year in which he finished with a staggering line of 76-19.5-12.5 and a pick. Essentially a rush linebacker off the edge of two- or three-man defensive lines; on the small side for that type of role at the pro level and may be asked to gain ten to fifteen pounds. Pass-rushing skills are very impressive, as his gaudy sack totals last season would suggest. Anticipates snap counts well and has enough explosiveness to challenge the edge against opposing offensive tackles. Varies his approach as a rusher; is able to dip his shoulder and bend around the edge smoothly, but also mixes in a tight spin move to get penetration inside, for example. Can use his hands to set up and slip by opposing tackles. Ability to convert speed to power is better than anticipated given his relatively thin build; capable of creating some genuine movement against opposing offensive linemen. Closing speed is good enough to successfully chase down quarterbacks who are fleeing the pocket. Was almost exclusively asked to rush the passer, but plays with balance and flashes fluid hips when making spot drops. Not the most instinctive player when it comes to defending the run. Appears to have some trouble locating the ball, so although he has the quickness and explosiveness to make plays, he can occasionally lose track of runners and work his way out of position. Does flash the ability to get penetration with his quickness and blow up plays in the backfield or make tackles in backside pursuit, however. Can play with discipline as the read man at times, but there are some plays in which he’ll barrel into the backfield and run himself out of the play, or make an inside move and give up the edge. Gets extension with his arms and has a stronger anchor on contact than anticipated but can lapse into throwing a shoulder at opposing tackles when setting the edge, rather than keeping his shoulders square and using his arms to lock out blockers. Has some of the most impressive pass-rushing skills in this year’s draft class, but may be limited to more of a rotational pass-rushing role early in his career, as he may need time in order to continue filling out his frame, get comfortable in coverage, and improve his overall discipline in run defense. Consequently, may be more of a second-round possibility.

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