In the 2021 NFL Draft, the Buffalo Bills turned heads by selecting back-to-back defensive ends. Greg Rousseau has been turning heads since Week 1, but Boogie Basham had been a healthy scratch until Week 4 versus the Houston Texans. With Basham part of a trio of youthful linemen that will likely be counted on in the next few years, let’s check in on the debut.
This is one of the first snaps of the game for Basham and initially it doesn’t go great. The one right before he got shoved around even worse. I went with this one because, while he lost some reps, I didn’t think it was fair to judge off his worst. I also like this one as he reacts well despite the early shove. Even with his left arm in a wonky position he’s able to windmill into what’s essentially a large swim move to disengage and get back into it.
Now obviously when you record your first NFL sack at least one or two things had to have gone right. For Basham there’s a lot that did. Without the All-22 angles it’s hard to confirm but it looks like he has good hand placement on the initial contact. The shove does two jobs. It compresses the pocket a bit more and allows Basham to free himself up and react.
I’m not willing to go on record and say if he faked to the right or if he started there then thought better of it, but the result is the same. Davis Mills thinks he can escape to the edge that Basham appears to vacate only to find that Boogie is already cutting back. Then Basham doesn’t get caught up in the moment and remembers to play the passing lane on his way toward Mills.
Tangent here. Basham isn’t on the field, but this is how the Bills and their youth movement will be expected to maintain an elite defense. Greg Rousseau is regularly asked to drop into coverage and has been overall pretty good. Even rushing just four players, this versatility keeps the QB guessing “which four?” on nearly every play. Edmunds joins the pass rush from the interior on this play and makes his presence known. It’s a weird angle for Rousseau to make the tackle but he sells out and wraps up some ankles in a crowd.
Back to Basham, here he is taking on a double team. Overall I was pretty impressed with his field vision and decision-making. He’s making pretty good progress on the double team, all things considered. When Mills is flushed right, Basham is immediately shadowing. Also note that above he was playing left side. Here he’s on the right.
I note Addison because even if Rousseau isn’t on the field, the Bills will still make you guess. Rousseau, Addison, and Hughes all get in on the fun.
This is meant to be more of a finesse play than the similar one above. There’s a quick swipe with the right hand that seems to be somewhat effective. Basham bends around the edge, reaches out...and just misses. It’s enough to disrupt the passing play and oh, so close to another sack.
And why not play some defensive tackle while he’s at it? From the look of it, Basham wasn’t asked to attack. I poke fun at him being off on the angle. Of course he has no shot at defending a pass with this trajectory but he won’t know that until it’s in the air. If this throw had been on a rope instead of a rainbow, it’s possible Basham makes the play. His timing seemed to be spot on.
I’ll leave the commentary alone for the most part, and just point out that Boogie’s trying to work in some hand fighting techniques, which is a positive thing to see. I’ll also add that with this play he officially hit all four spots on the line.
Most of the above is praise for Boogie Basham and I stand by that. It’ll be interesting to see how he performs against other teams, but Basham’s game against the Texans set a nice talent floor for the rookie’s debut. The versatility is an excellent sign, with the Bills trusting him to do some work all over the line. He checks another versatility box, showing off a good array of techniques in only 23 snaps of game film.