Name: Zack Baun
NFL Grade: 6.50 ("Boom or bust prospect")
Stats: Baun became the first consensus All-American linebacker to come out of Wisconsin ever last season. His 12.5 sacks leading the Badger defense to a school-record 51.0 total sacks in 2019 may have had something to do with that. He ranked second in the Big Ten as well in both sacks and tackles for loss with 19.5. Baun played 39 games with 27 starts for Wisconsin and tallied 154 tackles in his career along with 30.5 tackles for loss, 15.0 sacks and three forced fumbles along with two interceptions.
Comments: Baun actually came into Wisconsin as a quarterback known for his mobility. The Badgers moved him to defense and he got his first action as a redshirt freshman as a reserve linebacker. He went on to earn a starting spot and start his final 27 games in the red and white. He was able to showcase his skillset at the Senior Bowl and stood out among top-tier talent. He followed it up with a solid Combine performance and seems to be rising up draft boards in many mock drafts as the media catches onto his talent. His podium sessions in Indy were especially impressive. He's a pure student of the game and studies both offense and defense. This is what NFL.com's Lance Zierlein has to say about him:
"Ascending prospect whose explosive production on the field has begun to mirror his explosive athletic traits. Baun's twitchy get-off and deep bend at the edge is nightmare fuel for Big Ten tackles and he's still at the early stages of pass rush development. He is aggressive to flow downhill in run support, has sideline-to-sideline range and is fluid dropping into coverage. He's strong but a little light as an edge-setter so teams will need to figure out how best to align him. Baun is a scheme-diverse linebacker with high-impact potential whose best days are ahead of him."
Taking a look at his highlight tape and I'm not arguing with that last sentiment.
The Bucs re-signed Jason Pierre-Paul and tagged Shaq Barrett to keep their outside linebacker bookends and the entire starting front seven from 2019 intact. With Carl Nassib departing for Las Vegas in free agency, the Bucs have Anthony Nelson waiting in the wings but could use some depth at the outside linebacker position. However, should Baun continue to trend how he is, it's unlikely the Bucs would be able to grab him in the later rounds with some mocks now projecting Baun as a first-round talent.