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Cowboys Draft Target: Wisconsin Badgers EDGE Zack Baun

Breaking down Zack Baun’s strengths, weaknesses, and potential fit with the Dallas Cowboys.

In the coming weeks and months I will be breaking down potential prospects for the Dallas Cowboys to determine their strengths, weaknesses, and potential fit with the organization. Today, take a look at a former Wisconsin Badgers defensive playmaker who the Cowboys could consider drafting in the first-round of the 2020 NFL Draft.

NAME: Zack Baun

POSITION: EDGE

SCHOOL: Wisconsin

CONFERENCE: Big Ten

CLASS: RS Senior

JERSEY: No. 56

RECRUITMENT RATING: 3 star

HT: 6’3″

WT: 240

DOB: 

Highlights:

Zack Baun Highlights

Highlights of Zack Baun from his career with the Badgers…

Pros:

Zack Baun is an ascending player capable of playing multiple positions in any defensive scheme at the next level. He’s a twitchy, explosive athlete with a nonstop motor. Never quits on a play. Can be utilized as an off ball linebacker or as an edge rusher in a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme. Shows good first step quickness as an edge rusher and good read and react instincts as a linebacker. One of the best special teams players in the Big Ten.

Looks smooth in his drops and shows good fluidity in his hips when in pass coverage. Excellent speed to play sideline to sideline. Has good ankle flexion and bend when rushing the passer. Good hand fighter. Fights off blocks and works through traffic. Doesn’t get caught up in the trash. Good finisher as a tackler. Good in pursuit and takes proper angles. Never takes a play off, always competing.

Cons:

The biggest concern about Zack Baun is where he fits in the NFL. Would he fit better in a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme? Is he an off ball linebacker or an edge rusher? Can he play with his hand in the dirt as an every down DE in a 4-3 or is he best suited to play as an outside linebacker in a 3-4? Whoever drafts him will have to have a clear plan how to utilize his skill set and versatility.

His less than ideal length and size may keep him from becoming an every down DE. Can get engulfed by offensive lineman if he doesn’t win off the snap with this initial quickness/explosion. Needs to develop a more diverse pass rush repertoire. Needs to play more under control in the open field. Only one season of true pass rush production.

Cowboys Fit:

For a team that is in desperate need of upgrading their defense, Zack Baun is definitely somebody the Dallas Cowboys could utilize and play at a number of positions. His scheme diversity and position flex makes him a valuable chess piece Mike Nolan — the Cowboys new defensive coordinator — can deploy throughout his front seven if he is indeed planning on using a hybrid 3-4, 4-3 defensive scheme.

Baun can play any linebacker position in my opinion and rush off the edge as either an outside linebacker in a 3-4 or defensive end in a 4-3. I believe he can even be matched up with tight ends in the passing game. That’s not even mentioning the fact he would be a core special teams player as well. He’s a player who should rarely come off the field and someone the Dallas Cowboys should definitely target in the first-round, either at 17 or in a trade back situation.

Pro Comparison: Clay Matthews

What do you think?

Brian Martin

Written by Brian Martin

Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

Comments

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  1. I likey…but not at #17!

    Draft down into the mid-to-late 20s, pick up an extra late 2nd or 3rd & 5th, then draft Baun in the late 1st.

    • Ideally I’d like to draft Baun in a trade down scenario, but I’d be completely fine taking him at 17 if the board is wiped out.

  2. The board won’t be wiped out clean by the 17th pick. There will be several very good WRs, possibly another very good edge rusher or two, for sure the top 2 safeties and several CBs.

    The Cowboys should be able to trade down and still get Baun around the mid-20s.

    • That depends on how they have Baun and other players ranked. He could very well end up being the best player available.

      • I doubt it. I’m sure there would be other position players available that the Cowboys don’t need but would feel by trading down they could still get Baun while picking up an extra pick or two. That would be ideal.

  3. No way he goes top 20…. maybe very top of 1st but most likely one of the first ten players selected in the 2nd Rd.

    • Never say never. Teams are going to be intrigued by the versatility to play multiple positions he would bring to the defense. He’s a top 5 prospect as both an LB and EDGE player IMO. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he gets drafted in the top 20.

  4. I don’t think he goes in the 1st round!! And even if he does I hope we don’t get him!! We need safeties and CBs more than an edge rusher!! I’m hoping we can trade back and still get Xavier Mckinney!! Mckinney is the only player I want in the 1st round!!

    • The Cowboys definitely need CBs, but I’d argue they have a greater need for more EDGE depth than they do at safety. You can bring in a FA in free agency to upgrade the safety position without breaking the bank, but there’s a reason why past rushers earn top dollar. They are hard to come by.

      Baun not only provides depth at DE, but also at LB. That could prove to be invaluable considering the unknown about LVE’s long-term health.

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