From now until the 2021 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to showcase as many prospects as possible and examine both their strengths and weaknesses. Most of these profiles will feature individuals that the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have an interest in, while a few others will be top-ranked players. If there is a player you would like us to analyze, let us know in the comments below.
#9 Carlos Basham Jr. / EDGE/ Wake Forest. – 6’3 3/8″, 281lb
-Strong power rusher having heavy hands to stack and shed blockers
-112 quarterback pressures over his sophomore and junior campaign, most of any player in the country during that span
-Asset in the run game, acquiring over 30 TFLs in his time with the Demon Deacons
-Does a good job lining up inside on clear passing situations to take advantage of opposing guards
-Can shoot gaps with speed and quickness, crossing the tackle’s face inside or working past the guard
-Shows great pursuit of the football, having good closing speed to chase down ball carriers
-Has a variety of pass rush moves (IE swim move, push/pull, long arm, arm over) that he can win with
-Does a good job with hand placement on blocker
-Has played on both sides of the LOS, ranging from head up with the guard to outside of the tackle
-Has shown the ability to line up in a standup position or 3-point stance
-Will keep shoulders square at the line on the edge to maintain outside contain
-Able to redirect fairly well for a larger edge defender
-Looks to make a splash play on TFLs and sacks by going for the strip sack
-Will get his hands up in passing lanes if he can’t win with his rush
-Relies on his eyes too often when needing to get off the ball fast on his pass rush or on run defense
-Doesn’t have a lot of bend around the edge to turn the corner
-Isn’t going to win with speed around the edge on his pass rush
-Likes to cheat back inside on his pass rush or try and shoot the gap against the run instead of maintaining the outside contain
-Can get high at times as a pass rusher
-Can be more disruptive than productive at times, getting pressures and hurries but doesn’t always get the sacks
-Team captain and the Virginia 3-A State Player of the Year in 2015 in high school
-Played TE and DE as a prep athlete, also played basketball
-Redshirted as a true freshman
-Appeared in 11 games as a redshirt freshman, recording 24 total tackles (15 solo), two TFLs, three PBUs, and a fumble recovery
-Played in 12 games as a sophomore, recording 64 total tackles (36 solo), 11 TFLs, and 4.5 sacks along with two fumble recoveries, one of which he returned for a TD
-Saw action in 13 games as a junior, racking up 57 total stops (26 solo), 18 TFLs, ten sacks, three PBUs, and three forced fumbles
-Appeared in only six games as a senior, recording 28 total tackles (20 solo), 4.5 TFLs, five sacks, and 4 forced fumbles
-Missed last regular season game due to contracting COVID-19 and opted out of the team’s bowl game to prepare for the draft.
-First team All-ACC at defensive end in 2019, team captain in 2020
Carlos “Boogie” Basham Jr. is a Redshirt Senior who has racked up some notable production for the Wake Forest Demon Deacons over the past few seasons. Basham may not be considered the most fluid edge rusher, but that shouldn’t confuse you of his athletic profile. Basham was featured on Bruce Feldman’s Freak List this past season for his feats of strength in the weight room as well as his explosive vertical leap and impressive short shuttle times. For weighing over 280lb, Basham has an impressive athletic profile to say the least.
These measurables show up in Basham’s play, as he is able to line up all over the defensive front and use his strength, athleticism, and effort to generate pressure on the passer. Traditionally, he will line up as a base defensive end in a four-man front. Here Basham lines up outside shade of the right tackle against Virginia Tech. He has a good get off the snap, and then shows good use of his hands, hitting the swim move on the outside to knock down the blocker’s arms and turn upfield to finish the play for the sack strip fumble.
Basham is great at shooting inside gaps as well, utilizing his strength and power to win against blockers. Here against Notre Dame as a sophomore, Basham lines up on the right side of the line with and outside shade on #74 Liam Eichenberg. Off the snap, Basham hits the blocker with the long arm and pushes him back, then rips through the inside shoulder, getting low and having the leverage where the tackle can’t adjust and finishes the play with the QB takedown.
On this play, Basham shows his pursuit and effort playing chase on the football. He lines up in a standup position on the edge as a wide-9 technique of the right tackle, and on the snap of the football, does and inside twist with the defensive tackle. He delays his rush, however, and notices #10 Jordan Love scrambling out to the left. He then puts his head down to close ground on the QB, displaying great closing speed and limiting Love to a small gain. Notice how he also goes for the strip with his right hand, looking to make a splash play once he had the tackle secure.
Here is another example where Basham shows his ability to win on the inside rush and show great pursuit of the football. Here against Clemson, lines up on the left side against #79 Jackson Carman. Off the snap, he catches Carman leaning forward and hits the inside swim move to evade the block. He runs into the guard but finds a on the opposite A-gap to squeeze through and continue his rush to bring #16 Trevor Lawrence to the ground. He gets high with his rush which is something you don’t like to see, but his effort, hand technique, and awareness to get through on the extended play to finish at the QB are all positives you like to see out of a pass rusher.
Despite his positives as a power rusher playing with strength at the point of attack, Basham can stand to add more functional strength, especially to his lower half. Here on the left side vs #79 Jackson Carman, Basham has a slow get off on the snap of the football, allowing Carman to get in on his chest fairly easily. This results in Basham losing leverage and allows Carman to hook him, clearing the way for #9 Travis Etienne to run off-tackle down to the goal line.
Another example in the same game where Basham tries to work inside but gives up outside contain and goes exactly where the right tackle wants him to go, making it easy for him to turn Basham around and free up the corner.
Basham loves to use his power and athleticism to win on inside rushes, but that can be a detriment when he needs to keep outside contain. He normally does a good job manning his gap, but he needs to play with more consistency and discipline with his assignment. Basham can win on the outside as shown previously, but due to a lack of initial burst off the line and natural bend, he likes to rather turn inside.
Overall, the lack of consistently winning the edge with finesse and bend can be concerning for Basham, but he has the hand usage and motor that gives you hope that he can develop more in this area with more technical work from an NFL position coach. He has a lot of versatility given that he has lined up all over the defensive front both with his hand in the dirt and as a standup edge rusher, but he would be best suited by sticking at one position as he translates to the next level, while occasionally being kicked inside on pass rush situations.
In terms of Basham’s fit with the Steelers, I do acknowledge his more natural fit would be as a 4-3 base defensive end. However, He has shown the ability to stand up on the edge and shedding an extra 5-10lbs could do him well in terms of being more agile around the edge. I compare Basham’s game a lot to Shaq Lawson coming out of Clemson as a bigger, stout edge defender that is solid against the run and wins with strength and power in his pass rush. Both players show great pursuit of the football, and I wouldn’t be shocked if Basham’s career arc matched Lawson’s as a steady #2 edge rusher to a more established #1. That would be the role Basham would fill if Pittsburgh would select him to pair opposite of T.J. Watt. The Steelers likely wouldn’t spend #24 on Basham given their other needs, but should he fall to #55, his athletic profile, football character, and experience could make him an enticing option should they not be sold completely on Alex Highsmith as the long-term future, or simply want more depth and competition at the position. Regardless, Basham may not be a yearly double-digit sack producer at the next level, but he has a high floor as a disruptive force on the edge and would be a safe pick in a draft full of unknowns this season.
Projection: Day 2
Games Watched: vs Virginia Tech (2020), vs Utah State (2019), vs Notre Dame (2018), vs Clemson (2018)