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Broncos roster review: Cornerback Essang Bassey

Can the undrafted cornerback from Wake Forest find his way onto the 2020 Broncos roster? Bassey certainly has the approach and attitude to make that happen.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 18 NC State at Wake Forest Photo by Dannie Walls/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The comparison is inevitable.

When you’re an undrafted cornerback who signs with the Denver Broncos, you are forever linked to Chris Harris Jr. So, right on cue ...

Is Essang Bassey the next Strap Harris?

#34 Essang Bassey, DB
Age 21. 5’10”, 190 lbs.
College: Wake Forest

It’s an unfair question since they’re both completely different cornerbacks on completely different teams with completely different coaches. But as Laurie Lattimore-Volkmann pointed out in a recent story on the former Wake Forest defensive back, there are traits Bassey possesses that compare to Harris.

Whether or not that means Bassey can follow in Harris’ footsteps and make the 2020 Broncos roster, time will tell.

The Good

Where the comparison to Harris holds water is how Bassey plays and approaches the game. Similar to Harris, Bassley will do anything and everything that is asked of him. And Bassey will work his ass off.

Bassey is often to referred to as a “feisty,” ultra competitor. Given his size, 5-foot-10, you have to play the game that way.

By most accounts, the former captain for the Demon Deacons is also an incredibly smart player.

Bassey played 2,800 snaps over his college career, and while he only had four interceptions, he had 34 pass breakups.

“I’d say I’m very blue collar in the way I approach the game — an underdog mentality,” he said in a recent interview on Broncos Country Tonight. “When the ball is in the air, it’s a free game, and I’m going to get after it. I’m a willing tackler. My production in college was a testament to that.”

When you play with that kind of chip on your shoulder, and you go undrafted when you thought you would get selected in the NFL Draft, that’s a recipe to winning over the coaches and finding your way onto the Broncos roster.

The other benefit in Bassey’s favor is teams need cornerbacks. One of Denver’s perceived weaknesses right now is depth at defensive back. If Bassey is able to come in, when the players are allowed to return to the facility, and play with that underdog mentality, he has a good shot to stick around.

But for that to happen, Bassey will have to overcome his biggest weakness. And that will only get magnified in the NFL.

The Bad

Bassey’s size is one of the main reasons, if not the reason, he went undrafted.

As Lance Zierlein pointed out in his player profile:

“Three-year starter at outside cornerback whose lack of size will push him into the slot. Despite his feisty, competitive nature, Bassey has too many moments in coverage and tackling where his size works against him. His route anticipation and short-area athleticism in off coverages should help him challenge throws in his move inside, but finding a roster spot could be a challenge.”

Some of the other weaknesses that Zierlein highlighted were Bassey’s tendency to get pulled off balance by overreactions to double moves, his instincts fail him on misdirection and trick plays, and he doesn’t keep his feet under him, creating imbalance.

The Draft Newtork’s Joe Marino had this to say:

“Where Bassey needs to show more consistency is trusting and developing his technique when playing on the line of scrimmage. In addition, Bassey has moments where he appears to be a reluctant tackler and is guilty of nipping at ankles instead of squaring up the ball carrier, wrapping low and bringing his feet through contact.”

Final Word

The task in front of Bassey is a steep one.

It’s difficult for any undrafted player to make the final roster in the NFL. When that player is an undersized cornerback like Bassey, the challenge only increases.

What could help Bassey is the blue-collar, scrappy mentality he possesses. This isn’t the first time he’s been an underdog.

The most likely scenario is he gets added to Denver’s practice squad. There, Bassey could learn the ropes from two of the best defensive coaches in the NFL — Vic Fangio and Ed Donatell. Bassey would also get the chance to learn from the veterans in the defensive backs room.

Given his feisty playing style, Bassey could find his way on the roster via special teams (if he becomes a more consistent tackler). If that happens, anything is possible.

And the comparison to Harris will only grow stronger.


Will Essang Bassey make the Broncos roster for 2020?

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