Indianapolis Colts: Getting to know Tarell Basham and Zach Banner

Tarell Basham and Zach Banner are among the newest additions to the Indianapolis Colts after the 2017 NFL Draft. Getting to know them.

The Indianapolis Colts added terrific defensive talents to their secondary to open the 2017 NFL Draft. Malik Hooker fell in their lap in Round 1 before Quincy Wilson did the same in Round 2. They then used their third-round pick (No. 80 overall) on Ohio defensive end Tarell Basham, a 6-4, 269-pound high-motor threat off the edge. With a name like Basham, I am already a fan.

As the 2016 MAC Defensive Player of the Year, Basham’s 11.5 sacks tied him for 11th in the FBS. He also had 71 quarterback pressures, fifth highest in the country.

Basham brings energy, power, and a good short-area burst. With long arms, strong hands, and a relentless motor, he could eventually solidify himself as a  quality starter in the NFL. He brings the traits you look for and the possibility of being a special kind of player.

On the downside, he tends to rely on his power and drive to overpower opponents. Although it may have been enough at Ohio against small-school opponents, his technique will likely need improvement to succeed against NFL caliber linemen. If he can learn to utilize his hands and master the tricks of the trade, his upside is intriguing.

Basham is likely to play outside linebacker. I don’t expect him to fill the starting roll immediately, as he will likely find himself behind Jabaal Sheard and John Simon in the depth chart, but he will provide quality depth as he adjusts to the next level. Mike Mayock was favorable about the pick and Basham, per NFL.com:

“That’s a good football player. Plays his tail off. Base end, but could be 3-4 outside linebacker. He sets a physical edge. I think he plays really hard.”

Here’s SI.com on Basham, including their grade of the pick:

Grade: A
With a safety and cornerback under their belts already, the Colts found themselves a pass rusher at 80. He played a lot of hand-in-the-dirt DE for Ohio, but he really looks the part of a 3-4 edge rusher, which is where he’ll be with the Colts. Very good value at this spot in Round 3.

As for Zach Banner, he’s another type of player entirely. Obviously as an offensive lineman he’s on the opposite side of the ball coming out in the fourth round with the 137th overall pick. But he’s also and immense human being, measuring at 6-9, 350 pounds.

Yes, 6-9, you read that correctly. Banner is one huge guy, weighing in at 385 pounds his junior year. His weight is now below 350 pounds and most experts agree that he will need to keep it under control to succeed. He has good athleticism for a man his size and has proven himself capable in pass protection. In run blocking, well, the term bulldozer comes to mind.

As far as his downside, his enormous size makes him a bit top-heavy and he may encounter balance issues as a result. He may struggle to maintain blocks as well, given the strength and speed of NFL talent against his bulky frame. Banner has been known also for his excruciating amount of penalties, incurring 24 in the last two seasons. In that same time, however, he allowed only five sacks, three quarterback hits, and fourteen hurries.

There is split speculation on whether he is better suited for the guard or tackle spot, but his massive frame and upper-body strength will come in handy regardless if which position coaches place him.

Here is a summary from Dane Brugler at CBSSports.com:

He has his issues in pass protection due to his heavy feet and high pads as flexible rushers are able to dip and run around him with athleticism. But his power to control the point of attack, especially in the run game, is what makes him a possible right tackle target in the NFL. Scouts are hoping to see Banner improve his mental focus and overall consistency as a senior before stamping him with an early round grade.

Banner has held his own against NFL caliber peers and shows promise at the next level. He is also the biological son of Lincoln Kennedy, a three-time Pro-Bowl right tackle for the Raiders. With some coaching and improved technique, he could soon find a starting role.

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