Saints Roster: Realistic expectations for Zack Baun in 2022

Leigh Oleszczak
New Orleans Saints linebacker Zack Baun (53) and defensive tackle Shy Tuttle (99) - Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
New Orleans Saints linebacker Zack Baun (53) and defensive tackle Shy Tuttle (99) - Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports /
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Zack Baun is entering year three on the New Orleans Saints roster. What should fans expect from the Wisconsin product in 2022? 

With one of their third-round picks in the 2020 NFL Draft, the New Orleans Saints selected Zack Baun out of Wisconsin. Baun was no stranger to getting after the quarterback during his college career, racking up a total of 15.0 sacks during his final two years at Wisconsin.

During the draft, Baun was sometimes projected to go in the first round so the Saints landing him in the third round felt like a steal. Here was a guy who had 12.5 sacks during his final season with the Badgers and the Saints were adding him to their already lethal defense.

Unfortunately, Baun hasn’t panned out in his first two years as a Saint. He’s failed to record a single sack throughout that time and fans have grown frustrated with him, to say the least. In Baun’s defense, though, he hasn’t been utilized in the way that made him so dominant at Wisconsin. He’s never allowed to let loose and go get the quarterback, so hopefully, that changes.

Saints Roster: What to expect from Zack Baun in 2022

With Dennis Allen taking over as the head coach, fans are hoping that Baun gets more looks as a true pass-rusher. To this point, he’s mostly been utilized on special teams but when he is on defense, it’s more in coverage.

Baun is likely going to continue being present on special teams simply because that’s been where he’s excelled thus far. He appeared in 79% of the special teams snaps during the 2021 season and only 17% of defensive snaps.

Throw in that Pete Werner came in and immediately dominated as a starter and that makes it harder for Baun to prove himself. There’s absolutely potential for the Wisconsin product but a realistic expectation for him in 2022 is to be a core special teams contributor while occasionally making a play or two on defense.

Hopefully, though, Baun is a bigger piece of the defense and can prove why he was a third-round pick in 2020.

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