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Carlos Basham Jr., EDGE, Wake Forest – NFL Draft Player Profile

In an uncertain edge class, can Wake Forest edge rusher Carlos Basham Jr. be an early 2021 NFL Draft selection? That’s a matter of debate.

Carlos Basham Jr., EDGE, Wake Forest - NFL Draft Player Profile
WINSTON-SALEM, NC - SEPTEMBER 21: Wake Forest Demon Deacons defensive lineman Carlos Basham Jr. (9) tackles Elon Phoenix running back Jaylan Thomas (6) on the play during the game between Wake Forest and Elon on September 21, 2019 at BB&T Field in Winston-Salem,NC. (Photo by Dannie Walls/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The 2021 NFL Draft’s edge rushing group lacks an undisputed leader, and there’s also much debate surrounding where the most prestigious players should be ranked. Normally, this would bode well for the NFL Draft hopes of an established, steady presence like Wake Forest edge rusher Carlos Basham Jr. But Basham himself isn’t immune from scrutiny, either. What aspects of Basham’s game generate appeal, and where might he fall short as a prospect?

Carlos Basham Jr. 2021 NFL Draft Profile

  • Position: EDGE
  • School: Wake Forest
  • Current Year: Redshirt Senior
  • Height: 6’3 1/4″
  • Weight: 274 pounds
  • Wingspan: 81 1/8″
  • Arm: 32 1/2″
  • Hand: 9 1/8″

Tony Pauline’s Carlos Basham Jr. Scouting Report

Positives: Tough, explosive, and instinctive defender with a complete game. Intelligent but also a slug-it-out defender. Immediately diagnoses and unfolds plays and shows speed moving in every direction. Plays with proper pad level out of a three-point stance, effectively uses his hands to protect himself, and displays a variety of moves getting off blocks.

Forceful up the field, rarely off his feet and consistently attracts double-team blocks. Chases the action hard and plays through the whistle on every snap. Displays good change-of-direction skills and speed up the field and possesses a closing burst. Stays with assignments and plays within the system.

Negatives: Lacks bulk and gets out-positioned from the action by a single blocker. Does not display a great first step off the snap.

Analysis: Basham is a defensive prospect who checks all the boxes — instincts, intensity, and athleticism. He was asked to do more than to rush the passer at Wake Forest and effectively handled assignments, but when let loose at the Senior Bowl as a pass rusher, he was a dominant force. I prefer Basham in a system that stands him over tackle, and he comes with a large upside.

Carlos Basham Jr. Player Profile

Carlos Basham’s collegiate career began with a similar degree of uncertainty. A 6-foot-4, 225-pound edge rusher from Roanoke, Virginia, Basham was a three-star prospect. Ranked as the 163rd-best player at his position, Basham was buried in the 2016 recruiting class, and his generated interest reflected that.

Still, Basham received offers from Power Five programs, and he had a choice to make at the end of his senior season. He had offers pending from respectable schools like Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and Maryland. But in the end, he chose to travel to Winston-Salem, North Carolina, signing with the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. From there, the next chapter of his football career began to take shape.

Carlos Basham Jr.’s career as a Wake Forest edge rusher

Like many prospects end up doing, Basham redshirted his first season with the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. He returned to the fold as a redshirt freshman in 2017 and made strides as a rotational contributor. He wasn’t a full-time starter yet, but the Wake Forest edge rusher still managed to put up 15 total tackles, 2.0 tackles for loss, three pass deflections, and a fumble recovery.

Featured | NFL Draft Prospects 2021: Pauline’s updated big board, player rankings

In 2018, Basham filled the void on the edge left by Duke Ejiofor, who was selected in the sixth round of the 2018 NFL Draft. There was a bit of a learning curve for Basham, but he showed great promise, nonetheless. In his first season as a regular starter, Basham logged 64 total tackles, 4.5 sacks, and 11.0 tackles for loss.

Carlos Basham’s ascension to the 2021 NFL Draft stage

Basham’s 2018 season generated some excitement surrounding his play, but it wasn’t until his 2019 breakout that he’d truly get draft hype. Basham’s production skyrocketed in 2019. The Wake Forest edge rusher amassed 10.0 sacks and 18.0 tackles for loss in 13 games, and also added three forced fumbles and three pass deflections. He earned first-team All-ACC honors for his production, and he also had momentum as a draft prospect.

Carlos Basham Jr. could have declared for the 2020 NFL Draft, but he ultimately opted to stay in school for his redshirt senior season. It was believed that Basham could separate himself in a perceivably weaker 2021 edge class. However, that hasn’t yet been the case. Basham again logged solid production, notching 5.0 sacks and 4.5 tackles for loss while also forcing four fumbles. But the emergence of players like Kwity Paye, Joseph Ossai, and Jayson Oweh clouded his outlook.

Nevertheless, Basham chose to opt-out of his team’s bowl game and officially declared for the 2021 NFL Draft on December 18.

Analyzing Carlos Basham Jr.’s 2021 NFL Draft profile

Basham’s consistent production infers that he possesses a solid profile, but it’s not that simple in this case. Basham has several traits that boost him up. However, his physical makeup also raises some questions about his translatability to the NFL level.

Basham has a relatively high floor, courtesy of his size, length, and football IQ. He’s a balanced defender whose density and natural leverage brings good utility both as a pass rusher and a run defender. Specifically as a run defender, Basham can be hard to move. He has gap integrity, and he shows flashes of power necessary to clear open lanes and stuff runners. His motor also runs hot consistently, which allows him to make some plays in pursuit.

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Expanding on Basham’s traits as a pass rusher, it’s clear that he understands how to use his length to win. He can still develop his move combos, but he has many nice tools in his arsenal.

Additionally, on more than one occasion, he’s stacked moves on top of each other to beat offensive linemen. With his long arms and powerful hands, he can swipe blockers aside and rip their arms down. Furthermore, he has enough flexibility to dip under, and he also brings a good spin move and bull rush.

Potential holes in Carlos Basham’s game

Basham’s issues stem from his physical makeup, which is why it’s tough for Round 1 hype to stick to him. Basham flashes some explosiveness, but he isn’t consistent enough with his burst at the point of attack. His middling explosiveness prevents him from consistently gaining angles on blockers, and he doesn’t have the bend or lateral agility and suddenness to compensate.

Basham’s main mode of success is his mix of IQ, power, and leverage, but against bigger blockers who match his power, he doesn’t consistently showcase enough athletic freedom to get an edge. Basham was dominated by Clemson tackle Jackson Carman this season. NFL tackles are more consistent with their size and power, so Basham could have trouble at the next level. His foundation gives him a solid floor, but he may never be an impact pass rusher.

If there is a silver lining for Basham, it’s his size. Basham is 6-foot-3, 274, and he could feasibly add weight and shift inside to a three-technique alignment more often. There, his athleticism would be more of a mismatch, and he’d still have the length to gain clearance and leverage. He’s already a bit of a tweener, so he offers some versatility in that sense.

Basham’s strong 2021 offseason

I wasn’t super high on Basham off of my first tape viewing, but his offseason performance forced me to reconsider. He played extremely well during Senior Bowl week, showing the versatility to move to the interior on occasion. Here’s more on that, courtesy of PFN’s American Team Practice Report.

“Projecting as a tweener to the NFL level, Basham needed to show utility on the interior at the Senior Bowl. During practices, he did that. Basham’s skillset translated well as a pass rusher, and while he wasn’t as proficient in running drills on the inside, his upside as a pass-rushing chess piece makes him valuable. He was one of the more consistent pass-rushing threats at the Senior Bowl — a testament to his technical dedication and hand usage.”

Basham also tested extremely well at his pro day. He earned a Relative Athletic Score of 9.38, and registered a 4.62 40-yard dash, a 34-inch vertical, and a 122-inch broad jump. He certainly shows flashes of that athletic upside on tape. I’d like to see it more consistently, but it’s undoubtedly there, and the Wake Forest edge rusher has the high-character traits to maximize it in the NFL.

Carlos Basham’s best fits in the 2021 NFL Draft

Basham’s numbers are impressive, but he’ll need to keep progressing to maintain them at the NFL level. Basham isn’t a pass rush savant, and not all of his sacks were high quality. Some were more effort sacks that occurred after the play broke down. While he occasionally generated pressure quickly, he wasn’t nearly consistent enough to garner confidence.

Some people are more inspired by Basham’s power, move variety, and high IQ, and thus, he still has some merit as an early Day 2 prospect. That’s reasonable. I personally see him as more of a late Round 2 or Round 3 pick. He can provide solid ability early, but I’m not sure if he can ever be a premier edge rusher, unless he can fully tap into his upside.

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Still, teams are always in the market for reliable players who offer good utility in both pass and run defense. Additionally, Basham’s size dictates that he can fit as a 4-3 edge rusher or a more versatile end in a 3-4 scheme. Thus, Basham’s potential fits are wide-ranging. The Titans could use Basham’s talents, and the Packers, Falcons, Ravens, Lions, and Bengals could also be good fits.

Wherever he goes, Basham should be a solid addition. He needs to keep honing his traits, but he offers security as a fundamentally sound, high-motor player with leadership ability and smarts. In an uncertain EDGE class, that could unexpectedly vault him into Round 1, but anywhere on Day 2, he’s a good value pick.

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