The fact that Tarell Basham has gotten this far is a testament to his work ethic.
He had perfect attendance in high school and was known as a good student, graduating from Franklin County (VA) High School, but chose to go the prep school route, spending a gap year at Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Virginia. Upon stepping onto campus in Athens, Ohio, Basham became the first member of his family to ever attend college.
This year, he graduates as one of the most accomplished Bobcats in school history, a career that included a freshman All-American selection in 2013, a defensive player of the year in 2016 and two placements in all-MAC squads (third-team in 2014 and first-team in 2016.)
Basham already has participated in a number of private workouts for teams, including most notably the New England Patriots, and dazzled pro scouts with his performance during the Senior Bowl.
So just how do scouts see his chances as a pro?
- Height/weight: 6-foot-4, 269 lbs.
- 40-yard dash: 4.70 secs.
- 20-yard shuttle: 4.35 secs.
- 3-cone drill: 7.27 secs.
- Broad jump: 119 inches (9-feet-9)
- Vertical jump: 31.5 inches
- Bench reps: 15
(All numbers from NFL Pro Combine)
Basham was extremely productive for four years on the Bobcats defensive line. He earned the starting gig midway through the season of his true freshman year, when he earned All-American standing after a campaign that saw him earn 7.5 sacks within 33 tackles.
If you need a sack, Basham is there to provide it. He never had lower than five sacks in his career and was 11th in the FBS level in 2016 with 11.5 sacks on the year. Basham is also a great solo tackler that’s able to find runners in space and take them down with his length. He’s able to place himself in such positions because he has a great natural bull rush and shows rare ability to seamlessly switch between moves to get off the line as quickly as possible.
Basham’s NFL-ready frame would fit in right away for a 4-3 defense, as he has the prototypical “V-shaped” body that teams look for and has a natural motor that will leave position coaches salivating. The key to a good pass rusher is drive and Basham has that in bunches.
Sometimes that high motor works against Basham.
Basham relies on strong starts and sheer brutal force to win his battles on the line, rather than relying on using more finesse moves and an NFL-level offensive lineman should have a field day in stopping that if Basham doesn’t adjust his game.
Missed tackles were also an issue in space for Basham. While he was generally very good in short spurts, his relentless pursuit would sometimes cost him, as he missed 21 tackles in four years due to his over-aggressiveness.
Basham spent a lot of time at defensive tackle at the beginning of his career and was switched to the defensive end position late. He plays extremely tight, with an inflexible frame, which would make sense given his straight-line style of play. Pro scouts are unsure of how Basham might transition to the spot at the next level, but that doesn’t mean they’re not intrigued.
CBS Sports projects Basham as the eighth-best defensive end prospect in the NFL Draft, making him a Top 100 prospect in the draft with a Round 2-3 score. That would put him alongside defensive end prospects such as Jordan Willis, DeMarcus Walker and Derek Rivers.
Where the intrigue comes in are the comparables. Names such as Ryan Kerrigan and Cassius Marsh have been brought up when talking about Basham, which is a rather wide range of possibilities in terms of how his game will translate at the NFL level. Analysts tend to agree, however, that Basham could make an NFL roster right away as a backup or rotation defensive end with the potential to start later on in his career.