Leading up to the 2021 NFL draft, which starts April 29, Yahoo Sports will count down our top 100 overall prospects. We’ll count them down in groups of five for Nos. 100-51, followed by more in-depth reports on our top 50 players, with help from our scouting assistant, Liam Blutman. We reserve the right to make changes to players’ grades and evaluations based on injury updates, pro-day workouts or late-arriving information from NFL teams.
Previous prospect rankings: Nos. 100-96 | 95-91 | 90-86 | 85-81 | 80-76 | 75-71 | 70-66 | 65-61 | 60-56 | 55-51 | 50. OT Liam Eichenberg | 49. WR Terrace Marshall Jr. | 48. LB Chazz Surratt | 47. EDGE Joe Tryon | 46. OT-OG Alex Leatherwood | 45. CB Asante Samuel Jr. | 44. DL Levi Onwuzurike | 43. LB Jabril Cox | 42. DT Daviyon Nixon | 41. EDGE Ronnie Perkins | 40. LB Nick Bolton | 39. CB Ifeatu Melifonwu | 38. WR Elijah Moore | 37. OT Jalen Mayfield
36. Wake Forest EDGE Carlos Basham Jr.
6-foot-3, 275 pounds
Yahoo Sports draft grade: 5.93 — potential starter
TL;DR scouting report: Big-framed base end with a track record for disruption, but how high is his ceiling?
Games watched: Clemson (2020), Virginia Tech (2020), North Carolina (2020), Wake Forest (2020)
The skinny: A 3-star Rivals recruit, Basham was a 215-pound rush end who joined the Demon Deacons and redshirted his first year in 2016. He made 24 tackles (two for losses), one fumble recovery, three passes defended and a safety in 13 games (one start) in 2017. As a full-time starter in 2018 (12 games), Basham made 64 tackles (11 for losses), 4.5 sacks, two fumble recoveries (one returned for a TD), one pass defended and one blocked kick. He was named first-team all-ACC in 2019, making 57 tackles (18 for losses), 11 sacks, three pass breakups and three forced fumbles. In 2020, Basham logged 28 tackles (5.5 for losses), five sacks, one pass defended and one forced fumble in seven games despite missing time to come back from COVID-19. He opted out of the team’s bowl game to begin his draft prep and attended the 2021 Senior Bowl.
Upside: Highly experienced and very productive — redshirt senior who racked up 34.5 tackles for loss, 20.5 sacks, four forced fumbles and two recoveries over past three seasons. Had a streak of 23 consecutive games with a tackle for loss, which was the longest in college football (by more than 10 games) when it was snapped.
Big, thickset frame built for handling the rigors of the NFL. Experienced in rushing from two- and three-point stances and has played virtually every technique along the defensive line. Solid pro-day performance — good testing results in vertical jump (34 inches), broad jump (122 inches), 40-yard dash (4.64 seconds), short shuttle (4.25 seconds) 3-cone drill (7.13 seconds). Weight-room standout who can squat a small house.
Surprisingly light on his feet. Great explosion off the snap and moves well enough laterally. Motor revs hot — maintains maximum RPMs throughout the game. Strong workhorse stamina — nine career games with 70-plus snaps. Makes hustle plays from the backside.
Effective pass-rush skill. Delivers some pop with his hands and works blockers’ leverage well. Flashes a nice swim move that is surprisingly effective — can shock linemen with his quickness and also unleashes a spin move. Showed well in Senior Bowl one-on-one rush drills. Lined up inside and outside during that week and held up quite well at both.
Good technician with quality instincts. Uses his hands to keep blockers from getting to his chest. Gets hands up to close down passing lanes and influence QBs. Locks out well and is able to find the ball with regularity. Sets a hard edge and seeks to dislodge the ball whenever possible. Big hitter who enjoys laying the wood — some thunderous pops on QBs and RBs.
Scheme diverse — should factor into most systems at multiple spots. Three-down player who can impact the run and pass equally. Special-teams experience as kick blocker — and even has manned kickoff coverage in the past.
High-floor prospect whose effort and physical traits should guarantee him a successful career. Respected player who could develop into position-room leader and tone setter.
Downside: Finding his ideal weight is key — bit of a ‘tweener who could drop a few pounds and stay at end or pack a few more on and kick more inside. Played a bit too heavy in 2020. Shorter arms (32 7/8 inches) and smaller hands (9 1/4 inches). Slightly disappointing pro-day result on the bench press (20 reps).
WIll try to be more of a finesse rusher for his size. Could harness more of his bull-rush and long-arm power and play less like a smaller rush end. Lacks the great edge-bending ability for that style of play — a tad stiff turning the corner. Not terribly sudden or quick after the snap — can’t win as effectively late in reps.
Gap integrity is a little scattershot — will overrun plays and improvise a bit too much. Gets high in his stance and loses some leverage battles. Let a few ballcarriers slip past him while stuck on blocks. Doesn’t always wrap up effectively and will let a few fish get off his hooks.
Effectiveness is minimized with quick game and heavy diet of RPOs — not as effective playing on his feet when asked to cover in short zones. Clemson kept him fairly quiet for three straight years, even with a few decent hits on Trevor Lawrence. Racked up chunks of production vs. lesser offenses/weaker offensive lines.
Clemson kept him on his heels with RPOs and quick plays away from him. But here he shows the quick COD that allows him to control the LOS. Against lesser teams, he can win the edge or overpower his man.
Turns 24 years old in December — might already be close to his peak as a player. High floor as a prospect, but ceiling might not be terribly lofty.
Best-suited destination: We view Basham as a base end in an even front or a 5-technique in an odd front, and he has the ability to kick down inside over centers and guards on passing downs. He should have fairly wide appeal but perhaps not universal admiration. Still, we envision him developing into a very respectable pro if he lands at a good weight and continues developing his pass rush. Basham should contribute immediately and arise to a starting role in his first two seasons.
Did you know: Basham’s nickname is “Boogie,” which came about when one of his mother’s friends babysat him and saw his affinity for dancing.
Player comp: Vinny Curry
Expected draft range: Round 2
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