When Chris Ballard and the Indianapolis Colts drafted Tarell Basham 80th overall in the 2017 draft, they expected him to be a pass rusher — a young stud who could make an impact when spelling one of the two starting outside linebackers. They wanted him to show them what they saw on tape from his college days.
Thus far, Basham has been a very disappointing development. It appears that the NFL game is beyond him at this point. He hasn’t been able to create much of any pass rush when given the opportunity, and he’s really quite “blah” as a run-stopper as well.
He has issues sealing the edge, he has zero secondary pass rush moves and as a result his time in the lineup is suffering when the Colts could truly use some depth in order to not be forced to overwork Jabaal Sheard and John Simon.
We saw some of these things start to fester in the preseason, and Basham’s Week 1 performance was pretty uninspiring to say the least. In Week 2, he was... alright in very limited snaps, but has been almost non-existent ever since. In fact, Ballard spoke about it as well about a week ago on Colts Roundtable, stating:
“We need to see more out of Basham. We see little flashes, but not — not enough, not enough right now.”
Ballard also said that “We need him to grow up,” and “He’s not where we need him to be,” which, given that he’s only accumulated 60 total snaps in the first five weeks suggests that he’s not doing much in practice either. Basham has 1 total tackle thus far and that simply isn’t going to cut it regardless of how long he’s been in the league.
One of the most popular arguments is that the Colt should be patient because he was a third-round selection, and could be seen as a project. Look, a third-round pick by Ballard is not going to be a project at this position. The Colts had very little depth to begin with through the preseason — with Akeem Ayers being the possible exception — but all of that’s gone now since the 53-man roster cuts came down.
They clearly expected Basham to make an impact, to be a reliable edge-setting, situational pass-rushing outside linebacker and he’s nowhere near either of those. Ballard say they’ve seen flashes, and maybe that’s true. However, counting the “flashes” on one hand through five weeks is a real problem.
When combining the fact that Basham appears to be running in place — in terms of development — and that the Colts coaching staff doesn’t exactly get the best reviews for developing players to begin with, and you can imagine just how discouraging his situation is for the Colts going forward.
Players do have poor rookie campaigns and come back to clean out any worries about their long-term prospects. But, more often than not when players don’t progress with showing learned practice technique on the field in the games, the rut is too big to get out of.
To say that there should be panic right now may be a little strong, but concern, bothersome, unsettling and maybe even a touch of anxiety are words you could use to describe the feeling from the coaching staff and front office right now. He’s been a major disappointment up to this point.