Dating back to 2000, the Miami Hurricanes have had the fourth-most players drafted by NFL teams (114) and during that same span, they are tied for the second-most first rounders selected. While the program has been riding a roller coaster of winning football during the past 15 or so years, the one constant has been their ability to still produce solid NFL talent.
This draft cycle, the program is once again expected to have a few prospects hear their name called within the first three rounds. Arguably the best prospect is a 20-year-old defensive end that has freakish qualities blended with immense potential. As the Falcons are looking to enhance their pass rush this offseason, we take the time to slide another prospect under the microscope that can be on the Falcons radar in round one of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Gregory Rousseau Scouting Report
Weight: 265 pounds
Career stats: 59 total tackles, 19.5 tackles for loss, 15.5 sacks, two forced fumbles (14 career games)
Games watched: 2019 vs. Virginia, 2019 vs. Florida State, 2019 vs. Florida, 2019 vs. Pittsburgh, 2019 vs. Louisville
First and foremost, Rousseau is built differently. At 6’7 and in the neighborhood of 265 pounds, Rousseau is an extremely mobile marble statue with an insane wingspan and long limbs. In his one full season as a starter, Rousseau was the 2019 ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year and was a first team All-ACC selection. His length and quickness can be an issue for the majority of offensive linemen he comes across. That length was utilized across the entire Miami defensive line at times during 2019. He regularly lined up on the edge (often standing up) where his bend and flexibility was on display. On third downs, Miami kicked him inside where guards and centers didn’t fare well with him either due to his quick get-off.
Versatility and athleticism alone places Rousseau as a first rounder in many draft circles. He has the capability of being lined up at the 3-, 6-, 7-technique and still be impactful on the play when chasing the quarterback. His closing speed is already impressive and he needs very few steps to get to his destination. Rousseau is able to hold his own at this stage of development when it comes to meeting blockers at the point of attack. Of course, his length alone prevented teams from running in his direction. For a player that is still learning the position, Rousseau’s tackling ability is a plus, of course largely due to that insane wingspan that I am truly enamored with at the moment.
Plain and simple, Rousseau won a lot of his battles with linemen at the collegiate level due to his incredible athleticism and unique traits. The technical part of his game will need some attention and a little patience from a coaching staff. Rousseau opted out of the 2020 college football season due to COVID-19 and only has 14 games under his belt at the collegiate level. For those who are wondering, he played safety and wide receiver in high school, so he was introduced to the defensive end spot just a mere three years ago.
The lack of experience is concerning and missing the 2020 season cost him a ton of reps, although I completely understand and respect his reasoning for sitting out. Rousseau will ultimately need to develop a consistent use of hands during pass rush sets. That length of his needs to utilized more as he allows offensive linemen to zero in on his chest/torso, which can be concerning when it comes to winning leverage battles against refined NFL offensive linemen. His overall functional strength will be tested early at the NFL level although it was not tested very much in college. Rousseau is an incredibly raw player, in other words, and will need to be molded into a difference maker.
If we are listing players in this draft that will enter the NFL with the most potential, Rousseau will be at the top of a lot of lists. I want individuals to know that while Rousseau carries your classic “boom or bust” label, he carries a Myles Garrett-like ceiling if the development and maturation goes according to plan.
He CAN BE that good. There are plenty of things on the field that he can do now that are easy to fall in love with. His versatility, athleticism, and length are huge pluses and while he has not tallied a ton of experience, it is hard to ignore the type of production he accumulated once he was unleashed on the opposition.
He will be first rounder. That is a bet I am willing to take. An NFL Combine would’ve given him a stage to display his freakish abilities and that not being the case hurts a bit. I expect to hear his name to be called between the mid-to-late first round. In the scenario that the Falcons trade down and acquire several picks in return, taking a swing on a prospect that has his potential can possibly give the Falcons an elite talent that can be in the upper echelon of the NFL over time.
Of course, he will have to grasp being a defensive end and a standup outside linebacker in the Falcons new defensive scheme. I mentioned earlier that he has a number of reps standing up as an edge rusher so he has been introduced to it somewhat. His addition to the Falcons roster will need patience and plenty of it but man, if it all clicks for Rousseau, watch out.