The New Orleans Saints traded up in the 2020 NFL Draft and absolutely hit a home run by drafting Wisconsin linebacker Zack Baun.
After drafting an offensive lineman in the first round, the New Orleans Saints sat back and evaluated the field in the second round, opting now to trade up. But, in the third round, they did trade up and selected Wisconsin linebacker Zack Baun.
Baun is a star linebacker.
He stands 6-foot-3 and weighs 235 pounds.
Adding depth to linebacker was something we knew Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis were looking for as injury plagued the team last season. For the foreseeable future, free agency could handicap their linebacking corps in 2021 so this was a crucial snag for New Orleans.
Playing in a stout Wisconsin defense, Baun recorded 75 tackles, 19.5 tackles for loss, and 12.5 sacks. He’s an absolute unit and one that thrives when rushing the quarterback, much like Demario Davis.
Baun’s 52 solo tackles were sixth in the Big Ten in 2019. Taking the Badgers to the Big Ten Championship in Indy, Baun was a key force for a defense that ranked among the best in the NCAA.
With A.J. Klein heading to Buffalo, the Saints needed to shore up the middle of the field defensively. They did just that.
Given a 6.5 prospect rating, NFL.com expects Baun to be a boom or bust. Let’s just say Loomis is banking on him being a boom. With his speed, agility, and aggression getting the quarterback, Baun will be a terrific addition to the team’s defense.
Coming into Wisconsin as a quarterback, Baun transitioned to linebacker, and he’s certainly been thriving in his position. That said, Baun likely won’t start Day 1, but given the team’s immense injury history, there’s no denying that Baun will be expected to start by the season’s end.
The Saints needed help as the bulk of their linebackers are set to hit the market in 2021, and Baun will be ready to step in if they opt to spend their money elsewhere.