+Can do anything on pass plays
+Great pass rusher
+Terrific in coverage
+Can deflect passes at the line of scrimmage
+Very loose hips
+Uses his hands effectively
+Incredible on field awareness against the pass
+Good in pursuit
+Good at disengaging from blocks
-Horrible competition (he plays for Missouri Western State)
-Mediocre instincts against the run
-Can’t get good leverage
Missouri Western State defensive end David Bass is nothing short of incredible. He has the potential to be phenomenal in the NFL. But I want to start off by admitting I’ve only seen him play one time. The guy plays for Missouri Western State. It’s a miracle that I was able to get any game film on him at all. But, for whatever reason, last week, Fox College Sports Central showed a rerun of last years Missouri Western State vs. Central Missouri game, and I was able to scout him. I don’t like evaluating a guy based on his performance in one game, but I make exceptions for non-FBS prospects, because I am lucky to get one game of film on those guys. And, in that one game, David Bass looked absolutely terrific.
Bass has excellent measurables. He has been listed as tall as 6’5 and as short as 6’3, but, watching him on film, I’m inclined to believe he is closer to 6’5 or maybe even 6’6. He has above average bulk for a 4-3 end at 275lbs and excellent speed, running a 4.76 forty according to nfldraftscout, my personal favorite reference for 40 yard dash times. He also has excellent length.
Bass has excellent stats. In 2011, he had 55 tackles, 14.5 sacks, 20 TFL’s, and 4 pass breakups (terrific for a defensive end). In 2010, he had 47 tackles, 8.0 sacks, 10.5 TFL’s, 4 pass breakups and 2 interceptions. Again, pass deflection numbers were quite impressive. Overall, Bass has excellent numbers.
Bass is nothing short of terrific on anything that has to do with pass plays. I can’t emphasize this enough; I have never before scouted a player who is tremendous at so many different things needed to stop the pass. The amount of ways he can be used on pass plays is nothing short of unbelievable, but I’ll try to go over the things he can do against the pass one thing at a time, starting with coverage. Bass is truly spectacular in coverage. I’m not sure if I could design a player better suited to cover the NFL’s new breed of “super tight ends” (Gronk, Graham, etc.) than Bass. He has tremendous height at 6’5, and incredibly long arms relative to size, and unbelievably loose hips that allow him to change directions with ease. But it doesn’t stop there; in the game against Central Missouri, Bass made a play that I will never forget. He line up in a 3 point stance, and, as soon as the ball was snapped, he dropped back into man coverage chasing down a slot receiver. The receiver was running a go route. First off, finding a defensive end who can get out of a 3 point stance and then immediately stay stride for stride with a slot receiver on a go route is nearly impossible, even at the DII level. But it gets better. Bass was watching the eyes of the receiver as he was covering him, he saw the receiver look up, and he immediately turned his head looking for the ball, and he deflected the pass. I’ve never seen a defensive end that has the instincts to read the eyes of the receiver and then turn his head and deflect passes. I couldn’t believe it. Again, Bass has incredibly loose hips and can change directions with ease, which will translate to success in coverage at the NFL (making 3-4 outside linebacker a definite possibility). His long arms also help him deflect passes. Bass can do anything in coverage.
I doubt I will ever see a defensive lineman who can deflect passes at the line of scrimmage as well as Bass. On any given pass play in which Bass is blitzing, he uses a simple process in an effort to find the best way to disrupt the play. Before even attempting to shed a block and get to the quarterback, he reads the quarterback’s drop. If he sees the quarterback do a 3 step drop, he doesn’t even attempt to pressure him. He immediately puts himself into position to deflect the pass, using his incredibly long and quick arms. If the pass is to the outside and to his side of the field, more often than not he will deflect the pass. In the game, he deflected 3 passes, 2 of which were tipped high into the air and ended up being interceptions. I couldn’t believe it. Bass showcased amazing awareness to consistently read the drop of the quarterback and always try to deflect passes using his ridiculously long arms rather than rushing the quarterback if he sees a 3 step drop. Absolutely brilliant.
Bass has amazing awareness of the pass. Bass’s pass rushing techniques (namely good hand usage, see next paragraph) don’t really rely on getting good leverage against the O-lineman, meaning he doesn’t necessarily have to stay low and get good leverage to pressure the quarterback. As a result, his excellent height usually means that he can see above the head of the offensive lineman, so he always knows where the quarterback is, he knows the best route of pursuit to get to him, and he does a great job of disengaging from blocks if he sees the quarterback roll out or try to scramble up the middle. Always knowing where the quarterback is and being able to read the quarterback’s eyes while rushing him is a great asset for Bass, and it will only help him in the NFL.
Bass is an excellent pass rusher. I have always been addicted to guys who know how to use their hands to shed off blocks (I had Aldon Smith as a top 5 pick). Why? Because good hand usage is the only way to create pressure against any and all linemen. What I mean by that is that the bull rush is very rarely effective against offensive tackles and there isn’t enough room to create pressure from the inside using the speed rush. However, a good swim/rip move can beat guards and tackles alike, giving defensive coordinators the freedom to use crazy defensive line stunts and unusual alignments to create pressure. For example, Dwight Freeney is never going to create pressure through the interior of any offensive line. But guys like Aldon Smith and Bass can be used in all sorts of defensive line stunts and create pressure from anywhere they want. Plus, good hand usage can completely take the strength and athleticism of an offensive lineman out of the equation. The only way to beat good hand usage (namely against guys with long arms) is to use excellent fundamentals and have long arms. Regardless, Bass is an amazing pass rusher thanks to his hand usage. His quickness is mediocre, but he uses a variety of pass rush moves, and his arms are so long that it is tough to even touch his chest before he can use a pass rush move. However, most pass rush moves involve moving the arm of an offensive linemen, and he may need to add strength for him to be able to consistently do that at the NFL level. Regardless, Bass’ pass rush moves give him lots of potential at the NFL level.
Bass looks like an extremely versatile prospect, but his abilities against the pass make it tough to choose a position for him, since, one way or another, no matter what position you put him at, some of his abilities will go to waist. Put him at 4-3 defensive end? Waste of his abilities in coverage. Put him at 3-4 outside linebacker? Waste of his unbelievable ability to deflect passes at the line of scrimmage. Personally, I lean toward outside linebacker, since I feel like he is one of the rare guys who could dominate the Rob Gronkowski’s of the world in coverage, and he also might profile better at outside linebacker against the run. On the other hand, he already has experience in a 4-3, so it’s sort of a tossup.
Bass doesn’t look to be as terrific against the run. I must start out by saying that my sample size of Bass vs. the run is extremely small, considering Central Missouri only ran the ball 13 times in the game, only 5 times to the weakside, and, on one of those 5 plays, Bass wasn’t on the field, so I’m only looking at a sample size of about 4 plays. In those 4 plays, he showed that he has above average range (3-4 outside linebacker?), he is very good at disengaging from blocks, he is solid in pursuit, but his strength is far below average, his instincts are average at best, and he struggles to get good leverage against the run. He is a perfect tackler though, thanks to his long arms, loose hips (can’t juke him out), and excellent fundamentals. Again, it was 4 plays, but he will need to add strength to play 4-3 end in the NFL, and it would still be tough for him to play 3-4 outside linebacker if he didn’t add some strength.
I know nothing of Bass’s character. Unlike virtually every FCS/DII/DIII prospect I am scouting this year, Bass wasn’t recruited to play for a major program, but ended up at a small school thanks to an arrest or bad grades. I don’t know why Bass ended up at Missouri Western State, but I do know he was never recruited to play for a big school. Missouri Western State is so obscure that I can’t even find a newspaper article that talks about Bass. He seems to play with above average on field intensity. That’s as much as I can tell you.
Ultimately, Bass looks like an amazing prospect. I still can’t get over his marvelous performance in the Central Missouri game. I’d like more film, but, until then, I think he is an awesome prospect. The amount of things he does against the pass (create pressure, deflect passes, cover guys from slot receivers to tight ends) is nothing short of amazing, and I think he may have a future in the NFL.
NFL Comparison: Not an easy comparison, but I guess Greg Hardy, except I have no reason to believe that Bass has bad character. Admittedly, I also have no reason to believe he has good character, but still.
Grade: 85 (worthy of a mid second round pick)
Projection: 55 (will be a mid fifth round pick)