Remember when no college football program produced more impactful NFL talent than the Miami Hurricanes? From 2002 to 2004, Miami had 15 first-round picks, including a record-setting six first-rounders in 2004, which consisted of Sean Taylor, Jonathan Vilma, D.J. Williams, Kellen Winslow, Vernon Carey and Vince Wilfork. Well, times have changed, and the Hurricanes have only produced a mere four first-round selections since 2009. That trend will end next year, as the top Hurricanes draft prospects in 2021 can challenge for high spots.
In fact, the Miami Hurricanes should be well represented in the 2021 Draft, which is much-needed for a program that only had four players selected last year. Those four players were defensive end Jonathan Garvin, linebacker Shaquille Quarterman, running back DeeJay Dallas, and wide receiver K.J. Osborn. Not one of them was selected before the fourth round.
Before we jump into the top 2021 prospects from the “U”, let’s take a quick look at a group of Hurricane prospects that aren’t as highly regarded. First, quarterback D’Eriq King found his way to Miami via transfer from the University of Houston. King is an excellent dual-threat quarterback, who should be poised for a big season in Miami. With that said, his traits do not translate to the NFL, and if he wants to play on Sundays, a position switch could be in his future.
Next, Al Blades Jr. hopes to continue on the legacy of great defensive back play that his father, Al Blades Sr., a former standout player for Miami, started. Blades Jr. is blazing fast and offers great versatility. And finally, in 2017, Jaelen Phillips was the nation’s number one prospect. Two years later, he has left UCLA and transferred to Miami. Phillips has special traits and could still pan out and become a highly-regarded draft pick, but he must prove that he can stay healthy and produce at a high level. It’s a big year for Phillips, but if he can find a way to live up to the hype, he will skyrocket up draft boards.
Top Miami Hurricanes NFL Draft prospects in 2021
Gregory Rousseau, Edge, Redshirt Sophomore (6’7″, 253 pounds)
High-octane pass-rusher Gregory Rousseau is the best NFL prospect that the Miami Hurricanes program has produced in a decade. In a relatively average 2021 edge class, Rousseau sticks out like a sore thumb. His elite production jumps off of the stat sheet; in 14 collegiate games, he has accumulated 59 tackles, 19.5 tackles for a loss, 2 forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, and a mind-blowing 15.5 sacks. The only player who secured more sacks in 2019 was Ohio State’s phenom Chase Young.
Rousseau has size, length, insane athleticism, and explosiveness, which allows him to cause havoc and live in the opponent’s backfield. Not only is he a brilliant pass-rusher, but he is overwhelmingly stout against the run as well. His ability to dip his shoulder and bend, paired with his non-stop motor, makes him a severe challenge for any offensive tackle that lines up opposite of him.
If you want proof of Rousseau’s motor and ability to split double teams, give the clip below a gander. In a crucial play against conference rival, the Virginia Cavaliers, Rousseau obliterates a double team to secure a game-changing sack.
Is Gregory Rousseau the best defensive lineman in all of college football? pic.twitter.com/MyxID5hmXm
— 𝐂𝐅𝐁𝐋𝐢𝐯𝐞𝟐𝟒𝟕TM (@CFBLive247) June 7, 2020
Rousseau is versatile, as he can kick inside, which is reminiscent of former Hurricanes great Calais Campbell. The clip below not only captures Rousseau’s effectiveness when kicked inside but also his elite lateral quickness.
— Brian Johannes (@Draft_Brian) June 7, 2020
Not only is Rousseau the best edge defender in the 2021 Draft class, but he is also in a battle with Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons to be the best overall defensive prospect. When the dust settles, Rousseau will be a slam dunk top-10 selection in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Quincy Roche, Edge, Senior (6’4″, 235 pounds)
Rousseau isn’t the only Miami Hurricane pass-rusher with an NFL future, as the Temple transfer Quincy Roche is a legit prospect in his own right. Roche comes off a 2019 season where he was named the AAC Defensive Player of the Year, racking up 19 tackles for a loss and an impressive 13 sacks.
While Roche is much lighter than his highly-regarded teammate Rousseau, he too possesses outstanding athleticism and is an insanely productive player. Make no mistake about it: Roche isn’t great against the run and is in a sense a one-trick pony, but his trick is pressuring the quarterback, and he does that as well as any player in college football. Roche is more technically sound than Rousseau, utilizing his violent hands to keep blockers off of his frame.
Roche’s exceptional hand usage and speed off of the edge is on display in the clip below.
Nice hand removal by Quincy Roche.
If you are on @CanesFootball schedule best have some tackles that can protect. He & Gregory Rousseau are going to be a handful. The ceiling with Rousseau is obvious but Roche may be a step ahead technically & fundamentally. pic.twitter.com/jezyq84c0p
— Cole Cubelic (@colecubelic) June 6, 2020
If Roche can mirror his production in 2019 this season, he should secure his status as a first-round selection in 2021.
Brevin Jordan, Tight End, Junior (6’3″, 235 pounds)
The 2021 NFL Draft features an outstanding tight end class. Outside of Penn State’s Pat Freiermuth, the best player at the position is Miami’s Brevin Jordan. Albeit his lack of big-time production in 2019, Jordan possesses an incredibly high ceiling.
Jordan is an astounding seam threat, due to his rare blend of speed, size, and athleticism. When the ball is in his hands, he becomes a tough runner, consistently fighting for extra yards. When you watch tape on Jordan, you can see he is a natural pass-catcher, who can pluck the ball with ease. He is a brilliant and skilled route runner, who can transition in and out of breaks with ease.
His toughness as a runner and ability to threaten the seam are on full display on the clip below.
Jarren Williams finds Brevin Jordan for six. pic.twitter.com/8timO7hYym
— ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) August 25, 2019
Jordan needs to develop as a blocker, but he can make an immediate impact NFL from the slot. His ability to thrive as a pass-catcher from the slot reminds me of the talented New York Giants’ tight end, Evan Engram. A strong 2020 campaign could elevate Jordan into the first round, but a worst-case scenario for him is a top-40 selection in the 2021 NFL Draft.