Why the Las Vegas Raiders should take LB Zack Baun in Round 1
By BD Williams
Even though the Raiders added two proven starters at linebacker in Cory Littleton and Nick Kwiatkoski, the depth behind them still isn’t very good.
Players like Marquel Lee and Kyle Wilbur are solid against the run but are such a liability against the pass that they were often targeted when they were on the field as the Raiders 3rd linebacker. Meanwhile Nicholas Morrow saw a lot of action last season, but that was out of necessity and his role should be as a situational coverage linebacker: at 6’0 220, he lacks the bulk to be run stopper.
The Raiders defense is one injury away from being right back to where they were last year; a dire situation at LB. Enter Zack Baun into the equation. The Wisconsin product was asked to play mainly off-ball linebacker at the Senior Bowl despite playing on the edge in college. He is seen as a prospect who has scheme versatility.
If he was added to the Raiders defense, he would be able to play the Sam linebacker position in Paul Guenthers defense. Guenther likes to reduce his defensive end alignment on run downs and walk a linebacker up to the line of scrimmage. We know Baun can do this because this was his primary alignment in college.
But then if the play turns into a pass, Baun has showed the ability to change direction in space uncommon for many edge players. His work in coverage is why he is being looked at as an off-ball LB at the next level.