The undrafted pool of players is where the Denver Broncos find gems and one player sings sweet music at cornerback.
In 16 of the last 17 years the Denver Broncos have been able to find players in the undrafted pool of college free agents. This year it is Essang Bassey, a cornerback from Wake Forest.
Interestingly enough this is not the only college free agent and player from the Demon Deacons to wear a Broncos uniform. On the defensive side linebacker Justin Strnad rejoined Bassey to play with head coach Vic Fangio. As for Bassey, he becomes the latest to join the main roster.
Listed at 5-foot-9, Bassey packs physicality in his game. He does an incredible job of tracking passes down, finding the ball and breaking them up.
Like Michael Ojemudia, Bassey is an exceptional zone corner with ball skills. Bassey trusts his eyes and shows enough toughness to be a willing tackler. He can better there; however, he already is willing to make the dirty plays happen in the run game.
Bassey may start out in the slot early in his career with Fangio and may do quite well. The fact he is not afraid of contact at 5-foot-9 bodes well for him potentially as an outside corner. If he can consistently show to be better against physical, big wide receivers, then Denver will find another diamond in the rough with Bassey.
Bassey is a very gifted corner with tools Fangio loves. The head coach already compared him to a younger Bryce Callahan.
Callahan has made his name as a slot corner but is not afraid to mix it up outside. Versatility to play in or out helps defensive coaches scheme and game plan for offenses. This again leaves Denver with two potential options in their secondary.
If Denver does in fact have two Callahan’s on the same roster, then the possible production can become larger. Bassey making his mark already with Fangio helps put him a position to succeed in 2020.
We mentioned ball tracking above and that is one of the biggest things which stood out to me regarding Bassey. Bassey ran a 4.46 at the NFL combine. That type of speed suits him well mixed in with his ball tracking.
Bassey might lose his man initially, but the speed allows him to gain enough or all that ground back breaking up passes. He was matched with the Florida State running back and closed out the catch breaking it up during a play on the sidelines.
The play was really impressive for Bassey. Recovery speed is something every cornerback needs to show to become a good player in the league. Even more impressive with his recovery is maintaining the same level of physicality through plays. Bassey does not take plays off. This suits him well with Fangio.
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In a weird year, Bassey should have been drafted this year. It is strictly my opinion but based on everything I see from him it was a shock to see Bassey go unclaimed all seven rounds.
This obviously included Denver, but Denver knew they would at least try to call Bassey about bringing him in and it worked. Simply looking at the variety of tools to Bassey with toughness, intelligence and quickness it begs the question was height a determining factor? Maybe height was a factor, but one that was not is leadership.
Denver managed to grab two players from Wake Forest who were team captains on their defense in 2019. Bassey and Strnad look to be factors on the defense going forward.
Strnad will miss the season this year, but he was hitting his stride before the injury. Meanwhile, Bassey won over Fangio to give him playing time over De’Vante Bausby. Bausby has a history with Fangio and Bassey beat him out in the first year with the team. That’s super impressive.
Bassey has enough tools in his kit to sing sweet music in Denver. Let’s see him grow.