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 & Senior Bowl Measurements
- Position: EDGE
- School: Wake Forest
- Current Year: Redshirt Senior
- Height: 6’3 3/8″
- Weight: 281 pounds
- Wingspan: 81 1/8″
- Arm: 32 1/2″
- Hand: 9 1/8″
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.
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.
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 have 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-5, 275, 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.
Carlos Basham’s best fits in the 2021 NFL Draft
Basham’s numbers are impressive, but he doesn’t have as much upside as his stats indicate. 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 a Day 2 prospect. That’s reasonable. I personally see him as more of a Round 3 to early Day 3 pick. He can provide solid depth and rotational ability early on, but I’m not sure if he can ever be a premier edge rusher with his lacking athleticism.
Still, teams are always in the market for rotational 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, Lions, and Bengals could also be good fits.
Wherever he goes, Basham should be a solid addition. His upside is limited, but he offers security as a fundamentally sound, high-motor player with leadership ability and smarts. In an uncertain EDGE class, that could vault him into Day 2, but anywhere in the middle rounds, he’s a good value pick.