This position had been filled by dynamic playmakers for the last few years at Wisconsin. When the outside, pass-rushing backers struggled this year it wasn’t something this defense was able to overcome. With all of the question marks elsewhere on defense, there needed to be more production. This position could be a real weakness next year too.
Baun will be a senior and counted on to be the top threat rushing the passer in 2019. He was third on the team in tackles and registered 7.5 tackles for loss with 2.5 sacks in the regular season. That’s a fine year for a secondary rusher but he will have to improve significantly if there’s going to be any real threat to get to the quarterback from the Badger defense.
Johnson was going to compete with Baun for playing time opposite of Andrew Van Ginkel until it was clear Baun was the better player. Johnson will have his chance again to earn playing time, but an unimpressive 2018 season where he only registered 11 tackles doesn’t show many signs for optimism.
Bell, a transfer from Alabama, is somebody many Wisconsin fans would have already thought would make an impact with the team. He’s had to sit on the depth chart behind some pretty good pass rushers in the past, but that isn’t true in 2019. He could easily be a full-time starter. It’s time to finally find out if the talent is there.
The wildcard at this position group is Green-Maye, who is listed at 6-6 and 223 pounds. He’s very lean and very athletic. He doesn’t quite fit the mold of a traditional EDGE rusher but he has the tools to become a dangerous weapon. He’s still very young, only a sophomore in 2019, so there’s time for him to grow. I’ll be looking to hear his name in camps during the offseason.
The only other true freshman in 2019 mentioned in this post is Lytle. He’s in good company with his other incoming freshmen and has a chance to earn playing time at some point in the season. The outside linebacker spot is up for grabs opposite of Baun. Why not give some reps to Lytle?