One of the many problems of the Detroit Lions defense in 2019 was a lack of a pass rush, but this Big Ten EDGE Rusher can help right that wrong.
Statistically, the Detroit Lions were one of the worst pass rushing teams in the NFL last season. According to ESPN Stat & Info, the Lions were only successful on 24 percent of their individual rushing battles, giving the opposing quarterback decades to pick apart a weak secondary.
In his latest mock draft with NFL.com, Chad Reuter suggested that the Lions not only trade back with the Dolphins and still get their coveted corner in Jeffery Okudah, but also that they address their pass rushing need in the second round by selecting Zack Baun with the 35th overall pick in the draft.
Baun was a force to be reckon with amongst Big Ten offenses in his time with the Wisconsin Badgers, as he was able to rack up 152 total tackles, 30.5 tackles for loss, and 15 sacks in 34 games.
He has a nose for the football, which is ideal for any NFL team looking for an EDGE rusher. Baun was able to record three forced fumbles, two interceptions, one fumble recovery and one defensive touchdown in three seasons.
In his annual piece about linebackers to watch going into the combine, Tim Twentyman of detroitlions.com cited the former dual-threat quarterback as a player that Lions fans should keep their eyes on.
"He’s an explosive athlete, who still has a ton of upside as he continues to learn the position and perfect his pass-rush technique. He can match up with running backs and tight ends in the pass game and play all three linebacker spots."
Baun’s upside, versatility and pass rush technique is similar to that of fellow Wisconsin alum Chris Borland. While it’s sad that his career had to be cut short due to concussion concerns, I’m sure Lions fans would be happy to get a defender as talented as Borland was.
He does fit the archetype of a perfect pass rusher in Matt Patricia’s defensive scheme, as if he shifts back to a linebacker role, he’s the ideal size (6-foot-3 and 240 lbs) without giving up much speed in the passing game.
Listed as a Year One quality starter on his NFL.com scouting profile, Lance Zierlein compared him to Clay Matthews due to Baun’s explosiveness, twitchy get-off speed and deep bend. He still has room for improvement technique-wise, but placing him with quality coaches can help him fine tune those techniques.
Zack Baun’s stock is likely to rise if he has a quality performance at the NFL Scouting Combine this week, as he could rise from an early second round pick to a late first rounder. If that’s the case, the Detroit Lions should consider trading back into the first round for a potential pass rushing cornerstone.