NAME: Zack Baun
WEIGHT: 240 pounds
In a defense like Steve Spagnuolo‘s, players need to display a certain level of football IQ and versatility. Today’s player is just that. Wisconsin utilized him in a way that suited this linebacker perfectly. This player can add both to a defense’s pass rush, as well as, the coverage game. Now, let’s get things started with our breakdown of Zack Baun.
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Baun is efficient in taking good angles and using his frame to his advantage. He has a stout nature out in space. Additionally, you will see Baun use his hips to fly through opposing skill players. There are definitely times where he will lay the boom when flying downhill against routes in pass coverage. On the other hand, there are limitations with his mass and upper body strength. Baun is restricted with his length, and ball carriers can slip off of him at first contact. Truly, he is not always the most pretty tackler. Baun gets the job done in a gritty way, however.
When rushing the passer, Baun shows an impressive array of burst and twitch. You can see how quickly he can race around offensive tackles. Strong lower half, makes opponents have to play him to the whistle. If that does not happen, Baun will work hard for tackles from behind near the line of scrimmage. He has a very natural and developed sense of hand usage to beat blockers. Baun’s technique is to keep his hands active. At the point of attack, there are moments where blockers get fooled by his rips and punches.
Baun is very smooth when working straight down and across the line of scrimmage. For example, the explosion with his first step allows him to react quickly. Baun simply jumps out of cannon and is able to instantly create havoc in the backfield. Nonetheless, there are times where he can get caught moving too far up field. Not the most smooth player, when going against blockers inside. Though, Baun is very fluid in the open field to catch any ball carrier for a tackle.
Taking On Blocks
Once again, Baun is underwhelming in the length and upper body strength areas. He sets himself up well with his frame. However, thicker, sturdier blockers can often overpower him. Pulling blockers is yet another area where the linebacker can struggle. Moreover, Baun does well when squeezing threw small areas with his short area quickness. You see the effort and thumping ability that he has, when slamming in between the offensive linemen.
Baun is extremely natural as a zone pass defender. His movement skills are impressive. Also, he is developed with his backpedal and turning and running with defenders downfield. Baun has splendid anticipation skills and is smart when working into passing lines. Furthermore, he reads both the quarterback and backfield fairly well. Pursuit angles also help lead to magnificent results in this area.
As we mentioned, Baun is a versatile player who would work in a system like that of Spagnuolo’s. He can fill different roles, as a pass rusher standing up on the edge, or as an off ball linebacker in coverage. Draft sites had him listed at EDGE for a while. Now, most people are realizing he should be slated as a linebacker. Baun got a chance to show his versatility at the Senior Bowl. He can win in many ways against both the run and pass. There are a few areas of his game that likely need development. But overall, Kansas City could play Baun all over the field and his instincts and motor will lead to playmaking results.
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– Braden Holecek is the Kansas City Chiefs managing editor for Full Press Coverage. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on Follow @ebearcat9//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js Follow @FPC_Chiefs//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js and Facebook.