First Step Explosiveness - He's got a fair bit of burst and twitch, he's not a long strider but lower body power produces a good initial upfield burst when he's dedicated to taking the edge. Shows good weight distribution in his frame to load the drive leg and spring forward. Has created havoc on the back end of run plays when left unattended by design.
Hand Technique/Length - He's terrific here. Natural sense of what counters, fits and stab is necessary to offset blockers in space. He's reactive and fluid with his hands — shows accuracy on the move as well to win first contact. His length likely eliminates a consistent end man on LOS role in the early downs, however.
Pass Rush Counters - He's flashed a nasty cross chop, he's long-armed his way to soft angles and he's also brought inside spin, speed rush, high swim and rip/dip to the table as well. Same natural sense of implementation based on positioning and angles to his target — he's a natural and shouldn't have issues getting wins with secondary counters.
Flexibility - Does not show the greatest lower body tilt, he's built fairly dense but ability to turn apex of rush lane is hit or miss, he'll fail to get the feet to catch at steep angles. He's very fluid in space to unlock his hips and scrape or flow into the boundary and carry plays with pace without compromising his tackle posture.
Run Defending - Likely to end up gobbling up off-ball reps, given how effective he is keying plays and how quick he is to flash and react. He was most effective off the edge in a crash/penetration role to zip off the backside of plays. His hand pop is potent and capable of discarding blockers with authority.
Competitive Toughness - Might be captain of the "try hard" team. His motor never turns off and he's super persistent with his effort. Functional strength is plentiful but lack of length has netted some plays where he's swallowed up and lost in the shuffle of heavy traffic. His speed to power is effective and hand pop is potent to create push of the pocket.
Tackling - He shows a better tackle radius than you'd expect for his length, he's sufficient in extending his frame and taking good angles at point of first contact when he's slashing to the ball. He's stout and frame shows good hip hinge to unload and shut down upfield momentum from ball carries in head on collisions.
Lateral Mobility - Pretty fluid here. First step spring is definitely more potent when he's in a staggered stance but flat footed drive for width is strong enough that he's able to react and flash if left on an island and work into position. Aided by good lateral hip mobility to open himself in a true scrape and flow role off the ball.
Stand Up Ability - Ample versatility at his disposal. Was dispatched outside the hashes as a point man over the slot and dropped into flat and spy role with consistency (had a Pick 6 in 2019 on such a rep). He's well balanced and should be fairly seamless with a transition to off ball reps in base defense.
Football IQ - Super smart. Impressive watching him flash at the snap with recognition skills based on alignments but also seeing him key information in live action to flash his hands, soften or steepen his angles, attack down hill and get into gaps quickly or buzz into throwing lanes. Coach's dream with mental processing power.
Best Trait - Football IQ
Worst Trait - Length
Best Film - Illinois (2019)
Worst Film - Ohio State (2019)
Red Flags - 2017/2018 Foot INJ
Player Summary - Zack Baun will excel in a defensive system that capitalizes on his versatility and football IQ to place him in various roles in the defensive front seven. Baun has the quickness, burst and hand usage to win as a pressure player but early downs will serve him best working off the football to take advantage of his quick processor and short area quickness to step into gaps and fill versus the run. He can be a critical starter for a defense but needs to be moved around to play his best football.