The Buffalo Bills were planning to trade away their second-round draft pick.
But with Carlos Basham Jr. still available, the Bills scrapped that plan.
The Bills chose Basham, a former Northside High School and Wake Forest star, with the 29th pick of the second round in the NFL Draft on Friday night.
The defensive end was the 61st overall pick in the seven-round draft. He was the fourth-to-the-last pick of the second round.
“We kept thinking he was going to get picked,” Bills general manager Brandon Beane said Friday night in a video press conference that was posted on the Bills’ website. “We had a trade completed, a deal agreed to with an NFC club, but basically we told them if one player was there, which was Basham, that we weren’t going to do the deal. They were trying to trade up. We got the deal done about three picks away and we just said, ‘Listen, if our guy’s there, we’re not going to do the deal.’”
Basham became the first graduate of a Timesland high school to be taken in one of the first two rounds of the NFL Draft since former Jefferson Forest and Virginia Tech standout Jake Grove went to Oakland in the second round in 2004.
“I’m just ready to get out there and get started,” Basham told the Buffalo media Friday night in a video conference that was posted on the Bills’ website. “They’re definitely a hard-nosed defense. Just watching those guys — even when I played in Madden [the video game], I played with the Bills — that defense, that’s just something that I really love. I’m glad I’m a part of it now.”
The 6-foot-3, 274-pound Basham became the first Timesland graduate to be chosen in the NFL Draft since his third cousin Tarell Basham, a former Franklin County High School and Ohio University standout, was taken by Indianapolis in the third round in 2017. Tarell Basham played for the New York Jets last season and signed with Dallas last month.
Carlos Basham watched the draft with family and friends from the New York office building of the agency he signed with, Roc Nation.
“It was kind of stressful, kind of like torture, sitting there waiting on your name to be called,” his mother, Crystal Basham, said Saturday in a phone interview. “But [when it was] called, all the anxiety and everything just lifts away.”
Basham recorded 20 1/2 sacks in his Wake Forest career, finishing fourth on the school’s career list.
The Bills drafted Basham one night after taking another defensive end in the first round — Miami’s Greg Rousseau.
“We were not anticipating taking another pass rusher [in the second round] but Carlos was the best player [still] on our [draft] board, so we followed that,” Beane said. “You can never have enough pass rushers. We just felt the value was just too good to pass up and we’re excited to get him.”
The Bills went 13-3 in the 2020 regular season, winning the AFC East for the first time since 1995. They won two playoff games before losing to Kansas City in the AFC title game.
By adding reinforcements to the defensive line, the Bills might be able to pose more trouble for Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes if there is a playoff rematch next season.
“I had hoped to find a pass rusher at some point in the draft,” Beane said. “It worked out … with Rousseau and then again, Basham was clearly sticking out.
“We wanted to definitely get better [with the pass rush] this offseason and I think we’ve added some competition. We’re going to have some really good veterans coming back … and then we’ve got some youth in there.
As a sophomore, Basham started for Northside’s 2013 Group 3A state championship team. He made the All-Timesland first team as a junior and senior.
He made the All-ACC first team as a Wake Forest fourth-year junior in 2019. He ranked second in the ACC that year with 11 sacks — the second-best single-season total in Wake history. He also ranked second in the ACC in tackles for loss (18) and forced fumbles (three).
After mulling over whether to enter the 2020 NFL Draft or to return to Wake for his senior season, Basham decided in December 2019 that he needed one more season in college to try to accomplish his goal of being a first-round pick.
Basham had 28 tackles, five sacks, 5 1/2 tackles for loss and one forced fumble for Wake (4-5) in seven games as a fifth-year senior last fall. His streak of 23 straight games with a tackle for loss ended in a Halloween win at Syracuse.
He tested positive for COVID-19 on Nov. 24, so he missed the team’s Dec. 12 game at Louisville. He opted out of Wake’s bowl game.
Basham was invited last fall to play in the Senior Bowl. He did well in the practices leading up to the Jan. 30 game in Mobile, Alabama, but opted not to play in the game itself.