David Bass was a very big fish at a little school, but that doesn’t mean the defensive end lacks confidence as he embarks on his NFL career.
Bass, who had 40½ sacks and 56 tackles for loss in his time at Division II Missouri Western, described himself as a “beast” after he was taken in the seventh round by the Raiders in April’s NFL Draft, the 233rd overall selection.
There’s no doubt the 6-foot-4, 262-pounder is physically gifted – a quick, strong, lean pass rusher who showed in college he could consistently get to the quarterback – but there are doubts about how he will fare against a much higher grade of competition than he ever saw in four years of college ball.
Yet after matching up against other rookies from bigger schools and veterans in the Raiders’ organized team activities and minicamps, Bass believes he can make the Raiders roster.
If he can, it could give a boost to head coach Dennis Allen’s defense, which badly needs pass-rush help.
“I actually thought it was going to be harder,” Bass told Rebecca Corman of Raiders.com this week. “At the end of the day, football is football, so going against guys, it’s the same movements, same technique. It boils down to who wants it more.”
Of course, OTAs and minicamps are much different than training camp and exhibition games, when it’s full contact and players are fighting for roster spots. How Bass will do then is still a question mark. Bass knows he’ll have to raise his game.
“Here, everybody is good so you have to bring your ‘A’ game every play,” he told Corman.
Bass talked with Raiders coaches at the NFL Combine and hoped he’d get drafted. On the final day of the three-day draft, Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie called him to let him know he was going to Oakland.
“He pretty much told me to give him a reason he shouldn’t draft me, and there’s no reason at all,” Bass told reporters on draft day. “(I) believe I’ll bring everything I have to the table just to help this organization out. He said, ‘Welcome.’ ”
Bass has been grouped with the defensive linemen and will most likely play defensive end, where he played in college. But there’s been some thought that Bass could be athletic enough to play as a pass-rushing outside linebacker.
The Raiders, who need to greatly improve their pass rush in 2013, had just 25 sacks in 2012, and Bass – if he proves his “A game” is good enough – could be a situational weapon for defensive coordinator Jason Tarver.
Since coming to the Raiders, he’s been trying to soak up knowledge from the veterans on the roster.
“I feel like, especially the D-line group, it’s a close-knit group and they’re willing to help,” Bass told Corman. “If we ask questions they won’t hesitate. Everybody here is willing to help, especially in the defensive meetings with all the linebackers and DBs, everybody communicating. It’s cool. I’m enjoying that.”
In his final college season, Bass had 11½ sacks and was a finalist for the Gene Upshaw Award given to the best lineman in Div. II football. He also played well in the Shine Game against players from bigger schools.
The pre-draft analysis for NFL.com notes Bass is one of the rare small-school prospects who might be capable of making the big leap to the NFL.
“Just like every year, a few small-schoolers break onto the scene and perform very well on an equal playing field,” reads the NFL.com scouting report. “Bass is one of these prospects, as he was the most consistent pass rusher at the East-West Shrine Game.”