The New Orleans Saints traded up in the 3rd round to draft Wisconsin linebacker Zack Baun with the 74th overall selection. Baun fills a need and is expected to contribute immediately to the defense. He joins a linebacker unit that has All-Pro Demario Davis, talented but often injured Alex Anzalone and Kiko Alonso, promising second year player Kaden Elliss, and versatile veteran Craig Robertson. Elliss made the team as a 7th round draft choice last year and impressed coaches with an effective preseason.
New Orleans signed 13 undrafted rookies once the draft ended. The Saints have had a history of finding contributors among undrafted players, with defensive tackle Shy Tuttle and All-Pro kick returner Deonte Harris being the most recent examples last year.
Today’s UDFA rookie profile looks at a defensive player who, like Elliss, will have opportunities to impress the coaches for a job.
Joe Bachie, LB (Michigan State) 6’1” 230-Lbs.
Bachie came to East Lansing, MI and Michigan State after being one of the state of Ohio’s top offensive players as a prep recruit. He switched to defense during his freshman year to avoid redshirting and had two tackles for loss among 12 total stops over the last half of the year. He began his sophomore campaign as a starter and would lead the Spartans in tackles (100) while adding 7.5 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, and 3 interceptions.
Bachie earned 1st team All-Big 10 honors in 2018 with a season of a team-high 102 tackles (9 for loss), 3 forced fumbles and an interception. He had 71 tackles, including 9.5 for loss, 3.5 sacks, an interception, and 4 passes broken up over the first eight games of last year before being suspended for the rest of the season for a P.E.D. violation. Bachie finished his Michigan State career with 285 tackles (28 for loss), 7 sacks, 5 interceptions, 11 pass breakups, 4 fumbles forced, and 2 fumbles recovered.
NFL Scouting Combine Statistics
- 40-Yd dash = 4.67
- Bench press = 26 reps at 225-Lbs (2nd among linebackers)
- Vertical jump = 33.5”
- Broad jump = 119”3-cone drill = 6.93 (3rd among linebackers)
- 20-Yd shuttle = 4.34
Bachie dropped out of the draft in part because of his P.E.D. suspension, but also because he is viewed as an athletically limited inside linebacker with limited versatility. He doesn’t have the athleticism to match up with opponents in man coverage and lacks the speed to get outside to make a play. His lack of range allows opponents to get by him on the edge, and he doesn’t have a fluid change of direction in the open field.
Bachie plays with good strength and leverage at the point of attack and has underrated short-area athleticism. He has excellent instincts and flows to the ball decisively. His terrific play recognition allows him to read misdirection and fill cutback lanes against the run. He has high football intellect and is rarely caught out of position as a tackler. Bachie reads the quarterback well in zone coverage and shows excellent anticipation of the throw. That same anticipation makes him a lethal run defender, recognizing blocking schemes and beating opposing linemen to an area to make a play on the ball carrier.
Undrafted rookies typically have a low percentage to make an NFL roster, but those players have had more success with New Orleans. Bachie will have to play well on special teams to have a chance, but he has the play recognition and instincts to make a push for a backup spot with the Saints linebackers.