Baun’s combination of athleticism and collegiate production should have made him an intriguing prospect at the end of Round 1. Instead, the Saints were fortunate enough to grab him on Day 3. That could turn out to be a massive break for a franchise that is always looking for more edge rushers.
Rushing the passer is clearly Baun’s best skill. He won’t dominate opposing tackles with sheer speed off the edge, but he’s surprisingly quick for a man of his size. Baun’s motor also allows him to break down offensive lineman that lack the focus to hold their blocks for an extended period of time.
The best way for New Orleans to use the former Wisconsin star is as a hybrid rusher on obvious passing downs. He’s the rare outside linebacker who can be an outstanding blitzer and hold up when he’s asked to drop in coverage. That unpredictability gives his defense a major boost.
Baun isn’t going to burst onto the scene for double-digit sacks as a rookie, but he has a chance to make key plans for the Saints’ defense when its back is against the wall. Don’t be surprised if he finds a way to break into the team’s starting lineup by midseason.