Essang Bassey, one of three former Wake Forest players to end up in Denver as a rookie, chose the Broncos after his conversation with defensive coordinator Ed Donatell.
The DC told Bassey he would have a chance to compete, and that was all the UDFA needed to hear.
“He just made me so comfortable trying to get me to come to Denver, presented an opportunity to learn and compete,” Bassey told Ryan Edwards and Benjamin Allbright on Broncos Country Tonight Monday. “You really can’t ask for much more as a UDFA - a chance to show I can add value to an NFL team and produce. That’s what he pitched to me, and that’s what I believe in, so that’s what sold me on Denver.”
During the Combine, Edwards talked to Vic Fangio about cornerbacks in today’s NFL, a position Fangio essentially admitted is key in a defense now because so many teams are going three-wide on receivers and the amount of coverage needed is immense.
Bassey, of course, agreed.
“Every team always need DBs,” he said, noting that in different schemes, a different skillset may be required, so it’s just about showing a coach that you can do “that one thing” that’s needed - and for Bassey, it’s about playing inside corner. “I have the skills and tools to do it, and this is a great opportunity to do it.”
As a team captain at Wake Forest, Bassey played 2,800 snaps over his college career, and although he only had four interceptions, he had 34 pass breakups.
He attributes his durability a lot to his “blue collar” mentality.
Shutdown corner #GoDeacs— Wake Forest Football (@WakeFB) April 23, 2020
“I’d say I’m very blue collar in way I approach the game - an underdog mentality,” he said, noting his 5-foot-9 frame and coming from a small school. “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.”
This kind of production - along with his underdog mentality - has Edwards calling Bassey the next Chris Harris Jr. If he makes the Broncos’ roster, the former team captain has a good shot at that.
Although Bassey thought he would get drafted, he said he’s ready “to take full advantage and make the most of my situation.”
That may start by going up against his former Demon Deacons receiver Kendall Hinton when players hit the practice field.
“Kendall is a great player...He’s definitely a fun player to watch,” Bassey said, noting that they didn’t line up against each other much in college, but there’s always some healthy competition between the two. “We definitely go at it; whoever wins that matchup is for the people to see.”
As for fellow defender, linebacker Justin Strnad, Bassey said he loves playing next to him.
“Justin is a dog, man,” Bassey said. “He’s the guy always talking trash. He gives 110 percent every play. He’s a fun guy to play with.”