After an explosive redshirt freshman season in 2019, Miami edge Gregory Rousseau was tabbed as the pass rusher to watch in the 2021 NFL Draft. Following his choice to opt out of the 2020 season, is the athletic Rousseau still the top pass rusher in the class? Or are there legitimate concerns about his draft stock and NFL projection?
Gregory Rousseau NFL Draft Profile
- Position: EDGE
- School: Miami
- Current year: Redshirt Sophomore
- Height: 6’7″
- Weight: 265 pounds
Gregory Rousseau began his path to the NFL Draft at Champagnat Catholic High School, Florida. Although he would become one of the highest-rated defensive linemen in the class, Rousseau’s early career was spent playing safety and wide receiver.
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Although the lengthy youngster made 44 tackles as a high school junior, it was offensively where he made an early impression. At 6’7″, Rousseau put his natural height advantage to excellent use as a pass catcher. He snagged 28 passes for 467 receiving yards and 9 touchdowns. A testament to the trait which may make him such a desirable NFL Draft prospect, Gregory Rousseau was named to the 2016 Miami Herald All-Dade First Team as an athlete.
Not a safety, not a wide receiver, just simply an athlete
Rousseau made the switch to playing defensive lineman as a high school senior. Despite his lack of experience at the position, he logged 80 tackles and 10 sacks. Furthermore, when the light shined brightest, Rousseau delivered. As Champagnat secured only their second Class 2A State Championship, Rousseau contributed 9 tackles and 3 sacks.
A three-star recruit and the 80th-ranked player in Florida, Rousseau attracted attention from across the nation. Offers came from Oregon in the west, Rutgers in the east, and from multiple SEC teams. However, Rousseau decided to stay close to home, committing to the University of Miami in April of 2017.
Gregory Rousseau’s college career at the University of Miami
Gregory Rousseau’s whirlwind path to the NFL Draft got off to a solid start for the Hurricanes. The freshman defensive end made his Miami debut against LSU. However, his second game — against Savannah State — would see some early highlights and low points. He secured five tackles in an easy Miami win. Unfortunately, Rousseau would also suffer a fractured ankle, and his season was over.
If there were any concerns over whether the injury would impact Rousseau’s career, they were obliterated early and often in the 2019 season. In the opening game of the season against Florida, Rousseau registered his first sack and tackle for loss of his career. It would be the beginning of an explosive season that catapulted Rousseau into the national consciousness.
Continuing a monster 2019 campaign
In the mid-October clash against Pittsburgh, Rousseau secured a then-career-high 3 sacks. The following week, he destroyed the Florida State offensive line to the tune of 5 tackles for loss and 4 sacks. The former three-star defensive end was becoming one of the most dominant players in the whole of the nation.
Another impressive performance against Duke saw Rousseau log a career-high in tackles for a single game, including a pair of sacks. In Miami’s final game of the season, he added another 1.5 sacks against Louisiana Tech.
Rousseau ended the 2019 season with the second-most sacks in the nation behind Ohio State’s Chase Young. This impressive youngster secured multiple honors, including ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year, first-team All-ACC, and was named a Freshman All-American.
Gregory Rousseau was set to use his redshirt sophomore season to solidify himself as the number one pass rusher in the 2021 NFL Draft. However, the Miami edge decided to opt out of the season, declaring for the draft with just one season of starting experience.
Analyzing Gregory Rousseau’s NFL Draft Profile
Miami edge Gregory Rousseau is one of the most intriguing players in the 2021 NFL Draft. At 6’7″ and 265 pounds, the pass rusher is a certified athletic freak. He appears to be as strong as he is long, with speed and agility to match.
The NFL is in an era where athleticism is more important than ever. Teams are more likely to fall in love with a player with athletic traits who can be coached up than a player that might be talented but limited athletically. Rousseau uses his length extremely well, whether to distance himself from blockers at the point of attack or to wrap up the ball carrier or quarterback when tackling.
An NFL team is going to fall in love with Rousseau
When you add his college production to his obvious athleticism, he makes an incredibly desirable NFL Draft prospect.
Another feather in Gregory Rousseau’s NFL Draft cap is versatility. During his short college career, Rousseau has lined up across the defensive line. He’s played both sides as a traditional defensive end. He’s lined up inside as a 3-tech defensive tackle. There are times on tape where he lines up over the center as well.
Not only has that experience demonstrated versatility, but it also shows that he can consistently win inside. I would go as far as to argue that Rousseau does his best work working inside. He is going to be too hot for an NFL guard to handle.
What are the potential concerns with Gregory Rousseau?
In spite of his potential, there are concerns with Miami EDGE Gregory Rousseau ahead of the 2021 NFL Draft.
The first is the lack of experience. There are plenty of one-year college starters playing in the NFL. However, Rousseau has just one year of college experience, period. Although he will have used the 2020 season to prepare for the NFL Draft, a year spent honing his craft on the field would have been a year better spent.
As a raw, athletic talent, Rousseau still has some work to do on his repertoire of pass-rush moves. At present, he relies on a couple of moves and his speed/strength to win. Against stronger NFL offensive linemen, Rousseau will need more than that to win. However, he has shown a level of football intelligence that makes you believe he can quickly learn everything that he needs.
Finally, at 265 pounds, he will almost certainly need to add a little bulk to his lanky frame to withstand the NFL’s physical rigors.
Gregory Rousseau’s best fits in the 2021 NFL Draft
As a versatile and productive pass rusher, Miami edge Gregory Rousseau will be a valuable commodity in the 2021 NFL Draft. Although others have spent 2020 staking their claim to the title of first defensive lineman drafted, chances are that Rousseau will still be in the reckoning when Roger Goodell puts teams on the clock in April.
In his latest big board for Pro Football Network, Tony Pauline lists Rousseau as his 18th overall player, second-ranked defensive end, with a first-round grade on the Miami edge.
There are multiple teams that have big enough pass-rush need to utilize a first-round pick on the position. Those include the New York Jets, Detroit Lions, and a team close to home for Rousseau, the Miami Dolphins.
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