In a draft deep with plenty of NFL caliber defensive end talents, perhaps one sleeper pick in the draft is Ohio’s Tarell Basham. Basham has NFL size and length to be a three-down rush end/linebacker at 6’4” 270 with 34” arms. He tested well with a 1.61 10-split on a 4.70 40. He holds up decently, recording similar jump numbers to potential first rounder Derek Barnett. One area where he struggles is mostly bending around the edge. Even at 270 pounds, Basham recorded a 4.35 shuttle and 7.27 3-cone. While that’s not bad, it’s not exceptional in a deep class.
Playing in the Mid-American Conference, Basham ended up being the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year with 16 TFL and 11.5 sacks. Basham utilizes a very solid speed to power move, but when the first move doesn’t get home he struggles to disengage with blockers. Even with NFL-level athleticism, his hand usage needs to be refined and his pass rush arsenal more diversified. At the same time, he’s also a very strong edge setter and uses his length and short-area burst to disengage blockers in the run game. As he gains more experience and comfort in an NFL defense, Basham should grow into a 3-down edge rusher.
Vs. Tennessee 2016
Patriots Fit: Basham is more of a developmental project whose technique needs to be refined with good coaching. In Year 1, I expect him to be near the bottom of the depth chart but could be starting in Year 2. He’s a better fit from the right end position than left. His ability to defend the edge in the run game and drop into coverage is good enough to get him on the field for all three downs although Matt Patricia and Bill Belichick like to rotate defensive lineman.
Pro Comp: Whitney Mercilus. Basham’s small school status probably prevents him of getting drafted in the first round, but I would not be surprised if he goes pretty quickly on Day 2. Basham has NFL traits and plays like an NFL caliber DE. His tape against Tennessee is absolutely phenomenal where he records 3 TFL, 2 sacks, and a forced fumble. Basham was the best player on the field in that game. If available at 72, the Patriots have to think hard about taking him.