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Senior Bowl: former Wisconsin OLB Zack Baun Day 1 recap

The former Badger defensive standout is showcasing his abilities for the Detroit Lions, NFL scouts.

NCAA Football: Wisconsin at Nebraska Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

While it’s unfortunate for Badger fans that Zack Baun’s career for the Badgers has been completed, he’s on to a bigger and better thing, namely a career in the NFL.

Baun was the only Badger invite to compete in this year’s game, joining other recent Badgers alumni such as Joe Schobert, Corey Clement, Vince Biegel, Garret Dooley, Troy Fumagalli, Michael Deiter, Beau Benzschawel and Alec Ingold to make their impressions on NFL scouts and decision makers in the premier college football all-star game.

At the weigh ins this morning, Baun did little to affect his stock good or bad. He showed up at 240 lbs, up from his 235 lb listed weight, which was from prior to fall camp starting this past season. 32 1/8 inch arms is fairly typical for a player of Baun’s size.

Baun is playing for the North roster, which is being coached by the Detroit Lions. In the Lions’ 3-4 scheme, Baun is projecting to play the WILL linebacker, or weakside inside linebacker. While he played on the outside at Wisconsin, it’s likely his primary duties are on the inside in the NFL, as the typical edge defenders on 3-4 teams are often hulking players in the 6’4”-6’6” range and weighing anywhere from 250-275 lb. range.

This is a similar transition to what former Badger Schobert made while with the Browns, something Baun mentioned during his media availability this morning.

The biggest things to take away from drills like this are the movement skills of the players. Are their hips loose? Are they able to transition their weight quickly in order to change direction at a moment’s notice? Do they have the hip and ankle flexion to drop their hips and more quickly and powerfully burst in that direction? These are the things to pay attention to in the drills, rather than the drill itself.

Frustratingly, the Lions’ practice was frenetic (fast-paced, not necessarily a negative) at times, and I got caught on the wrong side of the field during Baun’s 1-on-1 reps, but I was able to see them from a distance. He was able to beat Matt Peart the first time, and I know he faced him again on his second rep, but Peart was at left tackle instead of right, where the first rep took place.

Overall, Baun did a fine job. He’s playing at a new position, so there will be some adjustments to be made. I’m encouraged that the Lions are getting him some pass rush reps, he had addressed that during a part of media day, where he said he hoped he’d have a chance to get some pass rush reps in, along with working in coverage. He’s got a great opportunity to show all 32 NFL teams what he’s capable of doing, and we wish Zack continued luck throughout the week and the rest of the draft process!

The first link is to a short conversation that Owen had with Baun while the second, longer, link is for the rest of Baun’s media availability.

Owen chats with Zack Baun.mp3
Media talks to Zack Baun at Senior Bowl.mp3