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Countdown to Colts: Defensive End Tarell Basham

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NFL: Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

Fifty-eight days until this one’s chasing quarterbacks and setting the edge. Let’s take a look at today’s Countdown to Colts, defensive end Tarell Basham.


The Journey

In 50 games in the MAC for Ohio University, Basham totaled 152 tackles, 38.5 tackles for loss and 27 sacks to go along with five pass deflections, five forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.

He improved his numbers year-over-year and earned 2016 MAC Defensive Player of the Year as a senior after putting up 49 total tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss and nine sacks — the highest total from a MAC defender in a single season.

In the first draft by Chris Ballard and Co. at the helm, Indianapolis selected Basham in the third round, with the 80th overall pick of the 2017 NFL Draft. In his rookie season, Basham appeared in 15 games and worked up seven total tackles, two sacks, and one forced fumble.


The Fit on the Roster

Of the six pure defensive ends listed on the Indy roster, Basham is the second youngest — only older than rookie Kemoko Turay. He’s in the taller half of ends at 6-foot-4-inches and is the second heaviest — lighter than only Anthony Johnson — at 266 pounds.

While Basham’s numbers weren’t as big as he and Indianapolis fans may have hoped in his NFL debut, he wasn’t drafted to be in the 3-4 defense that former head coach Chuck Pagano implemented. Playing in a 4-3 at Ohio, Basham should be much more comfortable in the scheme he thrived in at the collegiate level.


Moving Forward

For a team that has been in the bottom half of the league in sacks, opponent rushing yards per game and opponent third down conversions per game, this is a big year for the Indianapolis front seven. Expected starting pass-rushers Jabaal Sheard and John Simon, along with Basham, have experience as ends in a 4-3 scheme.

While I do think Basham should be more comfortable on the field next season, that doesn’t mean I think a starting job is in his near future. Right now I view Basham as a sack specialist, primarily on the field on third down situations attacking the quarterback, until he further improves other aspects of his game.

Should we see the expected leap in production next season, the stage will be set for Basham to grow in Indy. If he doesn’t, it might point to issues outside of scheme and raise questions as he approaches the second half of his rookie contract.