Saints: Zack Baun’s improvement could make or break season

New Orleans Saints, Zack Baun - Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
New Orleans Saints, Zack Baun - Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports /

The New Orleans Saints are going to need a few young players to step up this season, and one of them that the team will ultimately rely on quite a bit is Zack Baun, one of the team’s third-round picks last season.

Baun didn’t play much this past season. As a rookie, he was initially behind Alex Anzalone and then Kwon Alexander after the team traded for him and before he tore his Achilles. Alexander was impactful for New Orleans throughout seven games.

The New Orleans Saints have limited linebackers, and they’ll need big-time improvement from Zack Baun to help maintain their defensive dominance.

Both Anzalone and Alexander won’t be back in 2021. Alexander was released while Anzalone wasn’t re-signed. Alexander hasn’t found a new team given his Achilles injury but Anzalone went up north to team up with Dan Campbell in Detroit.

That means it’ll be time for Baun to shine this coming season.

Saints Wire’s John Sigler had Baun as an OLB1 in his most recent projections for defensive starters. Starting at the beginning of the season would be a huge opportunity for the young linebacker.

Baun doesn’t have much experience at the NFL level. While he was able to practice for most of the season, not being injured, he played little. He managed snaps in 15 games, starting 3 of them, but Baun as only in for 82 defensive snaps.

Playing eight percent of the team’s defensive snaps then being asked to be a starter is a big request for Baun, but he’ll need to prove his worth sooner or later. Originally drafted out of Wisconsin, Baun totaled just 12 tackles throughout his rookie season.

Baun’s best trait in college was rushing the passer, ending his junior season with 12.5 sacks. Hopefully, that’s where he can make a mark this coming season. Baun is good enough to step up, and he’ll quickly be replaced if he can’t find a rhythm early in the season.

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Baun needs to be more than a special team’s asset for him to hold his value in the Big Easy.