Considering the Bills made a couple of big dips into the “boom-or-bust” pool at the 2021 NFL draft, The Athletic’s selection for the team’s prospect that is poised to make the biggest impact in Year 1 comes as little surprise.
The selection is Carlos Basham Jr., the Bills’ second-round pick. Here’s The Athletic’s breakdown on the defensive end:
While first-round pick Greg Rousseau has more long-term potential, the Bills might get more out of second-round pick Carlos Basham Jr. as a rookie. Rousseau only has one full year of college football on his résumé and opted out of the 2020 season. Basham Jr., meanwhile, had 35.5 tackles for loss and 20.5 sacks in 45 college games at Wake Forest.
He may not be an every-down defensive end right away, but Basham Jr.’s ability to slide inside to three-technique defensive tackle could help him find early production. The Bills drafted with an eye toward the future, but Basham Jr. is ready to see the field now.
In addition to their overall college experience, age factors in here a bit, too. Basham, at 23, has bit more of a grown man’s build to him than the 21-year-old Rousseau, who has to add to his frame in the pros, along with fine tuning his technique.
Despite their draft status with Rousseau being the higher pick, such a situation where a later pick is more of an immediate factor is not something the Bills aren’t used to. Just look to 2020.
Last year’s top pick was defensive end AJ Epenesa in Round 2, but a couple of later picks made their marks as rookies more. Those include running back Zack Moss (Round 3), wide receiver Gabriel Davis (Round 4), and kicker Tyler Bass (Round 6).
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