A defense can be truly talented in the secondary and at linebacker, but what ultimately makes a the whole thing work is an effective defensive line. A number of question marks surround the current state of the Atlanta Falcons within their defensive unit, especially on the defensive line.
We are already aware of the talents of defensive tackle Grady Jarrett, but the maturation of Marlon Davidson and John Cominsky will be critical as the team moves forward. The team will also have to improve the overall depth and talent of the defensive line, with defensive end looming as a major t rouble spot. Today, we will place an All-ACC lineman in the spotlight and how this 2021 NFL draftee can aid the Falcons defense.
Carlos Basham Jr. Scouting Report
Weight: 280 pounds
Career stats: 173 total tackles, 35.5 tackles for loss, 19.5 sacks, eight pass deflections, seven forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries
Games watched: 2019 vs. North Carolina, 2019 vs. Clemson, 2020 vs. Virginia Tech, 2020 vs. North Carolina State
Basham was a constant for the Wake Forest defense from the moment he arrived in 2017. The burly defensive lineman was a 3-star recruit out Virginia prior to committing to Wake Forest and at that time, he was a 225-lb speedy edge rusher. As you can tell by now, Basham was able to put on impressive weight and became a defensive end whose game is centered around natural strength and power.
When able to engage at the point of attack, Basham shows that natural strength and is able to anchor in run defense with sound leverage. Basham displays sound gap integrity in run defense and does not run himself out of a play, which will be welcome for Falcons fans too used to seeing that happen in Atlanta. He has exhibited plenty of ability to be a three-down linema,n and at times is seen lining up on the interior on long passing downs to generate pressure.
If you have followed me enough through my scouting reports, especially on defensive lineman, arguably the biggest trait I look for are active hands. Basham is consistent with hand fighting as a pass rusher and his short area quickness can be an issue for guards and centers on the interior. Basham was a first team All-ACC selection in 2019 after a 10-sack season and was fairly solid during Senior Bowl week, showing that versatility.
With that big, strong frame comes the inability to display fluidness as a pass rusher. He rarely sinks his hips as a pass rusher, which could and should cause some concerns with a long term outlook on the edge.
The lack of twitch is quite evident as well. As a pass rusher, the speed-to-power conversion is absent also and he mainly wins with strength and pass rushing moves. Pure athleticism may not be a calling card for Basham at the professional level. Basham seems to have an upright approach when it comes to engaging with offensive tackles, and thus he will need to focus on that pad level as he takes on bigger and stronger blockers.
Basham is one of the more experienced edge rushers in the entire class. With his overall frame and power, Basham is NFL ready and can be a key contributor from day one. What is interesting however about Basham is that while he has operated out of the 4-3 alignment during his collegiate career, he may be a better fit as a 5-tech defensive end in a 3-4 scheme. That would mean that he would have to add some more weight to his frame as he is considered a “tweener” amongst most NFL scouts. I would not feel comfortable to ask him to play a stand-up linebacker role simply because of the missing traits of flexibility, bend, and speed around the edge.
Looking deeper into his numbers, Basham totaled 51 quarterback pressures over the past two seasons, which also shows how active and impactful he can be. His draft range is considered to be around the late 1st round, but I believe he’s more likely to be available at the top of half of the second round. If the Falcons want to add more juice to their defensive line, Basham brings along an arsenal of skill that can aid the Falcons considerably.