Could top out as a solid, but not great, pass rusher
Summary: It took some time for Carlos "Boogie" Basham to break out for Wake Forest. He redshirted in 2016 and was a backup in 2017. As a sophomore, Basham worked his way onto the field and showed some solid run defense skills, notching 64 tackles to go with 4.5 sacks. He then had a big junior year, showing serious improvement as a pass rusher. He totaled 11 sacks three forced fumbles, three passes batted and 57 tackles for 2019. After the season, he could have entered the 2020 NFL Draft, but he decided to return for his senior year.
Basham was held out of a number of games in 2020 because he was banged up. When Basham was on the field, he played well totaling 28 tackles, five sacks, one pass batted and a forced fumble. He then helped himself by impressing at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama.
Defensive end is one of the premium positions in the NFL, with many coaches feeling it is the most important position on the defense. NFL teams are always in need of edge-rushing talent, so there should be plenty of teams hoping to land Basham in the 2021 NFL Draft given his breakout junior year. Basham already has an NFL build and the size, strength, quickness and athleticism to become a solid three-down starter.
Basham was a steady pass-rushing presence for Wake Forest in 2019, coming through with some clutch rushes. While Basham has a big and strong frame, he is faster than one would think from the eyeball test. He fires off the ball with a good get-off and the first-step quickness to get upfield. Basham shows active hands to fight off blockers and has a repertoire of moves, including a rip and a spin to go along with bull rushes and cuts to the inside. Basham possesses nice vision to keep his eyes on the quarterback while using his hands and feet at the same time to work off blocks. When Basham gets free, he shows a burst to close with impressive pursuit skills for a big defensive end.
Another added value Basham brings in the pass rush is his ability to move inside to tackle in the sub package. He has the strength to battle guards, and his speed provides a mismatch on the inside of the line. His versatility was given further proof at the Senior Bowl, where he had an impressive week showing off his ability to rush from end or tackle. As a pro, Basham could be a nice chess piece for his defensive line coach because Basham could attack slow right tackle and guards, or he could cause problems for finesse left tackles who lack physicality.
In the ground game, Basham is gap sound and strong at the point of attack. He can stand up offensive linemen and hold his ground when runs come downhill at him. With his surprising burst to close, Basham does a nice job of flowing down the line to make tackles after shedding blocks. He is a well-balanced defender who should be an asset in the ground game as a pro.
Basham needs to continue to refine and master his moves for the next level. He also should work on running more hoop drills to get more acclimated at sinking his hips and getting pointed to the quarterback. Basham has some stiffness, which is common for defensive ends with his size and weight, but his stiffness is not alarmingly bad and actually is better than most edge defenders with his body type.
Basham would fit best in the NFL as a base end in a 4-3 defense. If he were drafted into a 3-4, he would be a tweener. It would probably make more sense for him to gain a little weight and play as a 3-4 five-technique defensive end rather than a 3-4 outside linebacker. Basham also shows the ability to move to tackle and rush from the inside in the sub package, which would be valuable in any one-gap scheme, be it a 4-3 or a 3-4.
Player Comparison: Cam Jordan. In terms of style of play, Basham reminds me of Jordan. Jordan (6-4, 287) and Basham are almost identical in size while being tough at the point of attack and possessing more speed than one would expect from a thick, heavy base end. Jordan was a late first-round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft and a steal for the Saints. Basham could go in the same range in the 2021 NFL Draft and end up being a very good value for his pro team.