CB Essang Bassey, Wake Forest

5’9” – 191 lbs. – 4.46

Three-year starter who recorded 19 tackles over nine games as a freshman, then put together 75 tackles, sixteen breakups, and three interceptions as a sophomore. Followed that up with 73 tackles, fifteen breakups, and one interception as a junior, then finished with 60 tackles, eleven breakups, and one interception as a senior. On the small side for a pro cornerback, which could limit him to being considered as a nickel defender instead of boundary option. Competitive, polished cornerback prospect who played a lot of off-man coverage from the left side of the defense, mostly shuffle technique. Fundamentals look very sound. Was asked to backpedal on occasion and demonstrates impressive balance and clean, quick footwork to get depth. Looks comfortable flipping his hips. When playing closer to the line of scrimmage, is willing to get physical with opposing receivers, although his contact strength and balance is about what you’d expect from a smaller cornerback; more temperamentally than physically suited to that sort of role. Otherwise, plays the game with a pretty conservative temperament. Does a good job of keeping the play in front of him and diagnosing quickly; pattern-recognition skills and overall feel for the position are a plus. Has smooth transitions from his backpedal to planting and driving on a spot, although as an overall athlete he looks smoother than he is explosive. Can struggle to defend against bigger receivers who are able to use their bodies to shield defenders from the ball; see touchdown he allowed on a well-covered post pattern against Tee Higgins last season. On-ball production is very impressive, especially given his size; also has impressive leaping ability, which should help him overcome some of the concerns about his size. Actually a pretty good run defender as well. Sniffs out rushing attempts and screens quickly, and looks like a pretty fundamentally-sound tackler who also attacks blocks with some aggression and appropriate arm extension. That said, can be overwhelmed on contact, or end up getting stuck on blockers because of his lack of size and functional strength. Not one of the biggest or strongest cornerbacks in the class, but is one of the most technically and mentally advanced in the class, combining clean footwork, smooth movement skills, and impressive pattern recognition. Impressive Combine should help his stock, and should be viewed as a relatively safe candidate to groom for a slot cornerback role.

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