2020 NFL Draft: Zack Baun, Josh Uche and the value of positional versatility | NFL Draft | PFF

NFL Draft News & Analysis

Premium Content Sign Up

2020 NFL Draft: Zack Baun, Josh Uche and the value of positional versatility

Earlier this offseason, PFF's Eric Eager looked at the fragility of NFL defenses, essentially determining whether it was more important to have stars or depth on that side of the ball. The article can be found in its entirety here, but one interesting takeaway was that versatility and the ability to play multiple positions well provides real value to a defense. Take, for example, Tyrann Mathieu, who signed with the Kansas City Chiefs and wore multiple hats on that much-improved defense last season. He allowed them to play fewer players in positions that other teams could exploit.   

[Editor’s note: Check out PFF’s 2020 Mock Draft HubNFL Draft Big Board and NFL Mock Draft Simulator. PFF Elite subscribers can also download the 1,100-page 2020 NFL Draft Guide.]

Being able to do multiple things well not only decreases a prospect’s chance of busting once he gets to the NFL, but it also raises the floor of the defense he joins. Some people will look at prospects like Wisconsin’s Zack Baun and Michigan’s Josh Uche and downgrade them because they’re tweeners. Will they play off the edge in the NFL or will they be forced to move off-ball because of their size? The real question teams should be asking is how they can use those players that have shown the ability to rush the passer at a high level but are also athletic enough to play off-ball. 

The New England Patriots’ model

The New England Patriots reunited Jamie Collins Sr. and Dont’a Hightower this past season, and the two picked up right where they left off before Collins was traded to the Cleveland Browns during the 2016 season. If you look at the three-year stretch from 2013 to 2015, this is the list of off-ball linebackers with the most quarterback pressures (including playoffs). 

Subscribe to PFF Edge to continue reading

Already have a subscription? Sign In

Tackle Lifes financial Challenges. Western Southern Financial Group.

NFL Draft Featured Tools

  • 250+ three-page scouting profiles - advanced stats, 3-year grades, player comps, combine data and Senior Bowl grades - for the 2022 draft class.

    Available with

  • PFF’s CFB preview magazine provides an advanced overview every FBS team entering the 2021 season, including PFF-exclusive advanced stats, player grades, scheme analysis and more.

    Available with

    CFB Grades+
  • PFF's Big Board for the 2022 NFL Draft offers three-year player grades, combine measurables, position rankings, and in-depth player analysis for all of the top draft prospects.

    Available with

  • Our latest 2020 NFL mock drafts.

  • Our exclusive database, featuring the most in-depth collection of NCAA player performance data.

    Available with

    CFB Prem Stats+
Pro Subscriptions

Unlock NFL Player Grades, Fantasy & NFL Draft

$9.99 / mo
$39.99 / yr

Unlock Premium Stats, PFF Greenline & DFS

$34.99 / mo
$199.99 / yr
College Subscriptions

Unlock College Player Grades and Preview Magazine

$7.99 / mo
$27.99 / yr

Unlock NCAA Premium Stats & PFF Greenline NCAA

$29.99 / mo
$119.99 / yr