NFL Prospect Profiles #3 Gregory Rousseau. I want to bring light to some of the guys that’ll be suiting up for your teams next season. Personally, draft night is my favourite night of the year. And that’s because I sit down with an understanding for a lot of the players who’s lives are about to change forever, and it helps me appreciate the deeper meaning of the NFL draft. It’s not simply, ‘who will the Dolphins select?’ and then once made clear turning the TV off and going to bed. It’s knowing what these guys went through to get to where they are, and enjoying the draft from start to finish as they achieve their lifelong dream. Disclaimer. I am not an NFL scout, these are simply my humble opinions on some of the talent heading to the league this year.
Gregory Rousseau – DE Miami
Rousseau was one of the few stars of college football in 2019 who opted out of playing in 2020. He’d be a big loss to Miamis pass rush, after leading the ACC in quarterback hits the previous year. It’s going to be an interesting one to keep an eye on as to how the opt out’s will affect players going into the draft. Rousseau started the year as the first pass rusher off the board, but will the performances of others in 2020 cast him aside when it comes to NFL teams draft boards.
It’s certainly a gamble that Rousseau has taken, and an interesting story come draft day, which is why I wanted to add him to my list of profiles on the site early on. Let’s bring his name back into the picture. Rousseau was dominant in what turned out to be his only real year playing college football, and we’ll talk numbers a little further on in today’s piece.
Rousseau was born in Coconut Creek, Florida. In high school he played defensive end, safety, and wide receiver. He’s listed as 6″7, 260 pounds(!!). With offers from LSU and Indiana near the top of his recruitment, the 3 star prospect chose to stay close to home, and committed to the Miami Hurricanes in 2017.
One season of playing time is all Greg Rousseau needs to apparently land him in the first round of the NFL draft. He barely played at all as a freshman, featuring in the first two games of the season before sustaining an ankle injury that would end his season and cause him to redshirt. But he came back with a bang in his second year and it was these performances that propelled his name onto every scouting profile and mock draft across the country.
He recorded 15.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and 54 tackles. Rousseau also added 45 quarterback pressures and as mentioned, led the ACC in quarterback hits. His outstanding game day performances landed him ACC defensive player of the year, and suddenly the long, athletic edge rusher found himself on every NFL teams radar.
His numbers are great, but according to Pro FootbalL Focus there needs to be a consideration for the lack of snaps Rousseau was getting through the first 5 games. The apparent average, at 22 snaps per game, would limit his productivity. Although he still had 4 sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss in those games! He’d play a lot more and his snap count would double as the season went on, which allowed him to earn himself the player of the year award. Imagine the numbers had he played 40+ snaps in every game.
On the 2nd November, Greg Rousseau caused nightmares for Florida State all day. He had 8 tackles, 7 solo. And 4 sacks. Here’s every snap from that game:
You can tell he is still developing, and this is what makes him interesting come draft day. He gets held up on blocks from time to time and doesn’t always strike you as a totally unblockable defensive end. But his length and athleticism allow him to make plays others often wouldn’t be able to make. His reach is enormous and he can turn and chase back down the field to make a tackle on a scrambling QB or shifty running back.
He’s still very young. Born on April 5th 2000, Rousseau will only be barely 21 come draft day. He has huge upside and can be developed into a scary NFL athlete, but I personally wouldn’t say he’s quite Chase Youngs prospect level just yet.
With just the one year of tape for NFL teams to work from, and now a year out of the limelight, will this negatively impact his position in the draft? I’d say he’s still a first round pick, but not playing this year might have cost him a spot in the top 10, with other defensive ends showing great production while he prepared himself for the draft.
However, on the flip side, i’d imagine that Greg Rousseau has been spending the year off working on his body, technique and overall NFL preparation. It’ll certainly be interesting to see how he’s developed when it comes to a pro day or working out at the combine. If he’s bigger, added more muscle and worked on his technique to get off of blocks, we might see his stock shoot right back up into the top few names on the board. At the end of the day, he’s 6 foot 7, and just looks every bit the part of what an NFL team would want terrorising opposing teams quarterbacks.
It’s certainly a gamble, personally i’m not sure that just one years worth of tape is enough. Also worth considering is the competition Miami faced during that very productive season. I’d have liked to see him display his ability against the likes of Clemson, but he didn’t get the chance. Miami did however line him up in several different spots across the defensive line, and he’s able to be productive in all of the, which is certainly a good look for a player hoping to make it big at the next level.
I totally respect a players decision to opt out of the season, especially to avoid getting hurt or any other circumstances that might cost them a spot in the NFL. I just wonder how it’ll play out in April. Especially when, despite the productivity, it’s a one season wonder type scenario in terms of college performance. But at the end of the day it’s all of these factors that make him such a intriguing name to keep an eye on.
Check his scouting profile here!
It’s interesting that they mention the fact that Rousseau is still new to playing defensive end. Having primarily played safety and receiver, if he’s able to be as productive as he was in 2019, while not yet developing edge rush moves and being able to effectively disengage blockers, imagine the upside once he nails that side of the position.
As an NFL comparison, i like standing him next to somebody like Jason Pierre Paul in his better years. Likely even more athletic, JPP is the type of defensive end you can line up anywhere and get production out of. About 15 pounds heavier than Rousseau is currently, at 6 foot 5, I think Pierre Pauls’ could be the type of frame to be aiming for. JPP can drop back into coverage and confuse the offence, or you might find him in the backfield before you notice the balls been snapped.
Despite the questions around the amount of tape he might have, or the one season wonder fiasco I’ve just drawn up, I still think Greg Rousseau’s name will be called on day one. I do believe one or two names will be up before his on the defensive line, but there’ll be a team towards the end of day one who needs a pass rusher with immense amounts of upside.
Rousseau, although able to drop into coverage, will be best suited to a team with a 4-3 front, so he can attack off the edge and use his size and length to seal edges on run plays and quarterback keeps. Something that would be particularly useful against the likes of Kyler Murray…
The Seattle Seahawks have found some success in bringing in free agent Carlos Dunlap, and they might hold onto him going into next season, but it’s no secret they lack pressure off the edge. It’s the reason they brought in Jadeveon Clowney, which was good for one season but he moved on swiftly. Since, they’ve struggled to hold teams down, and in a division with Kyler Murray popping up twice a season, tracking him down and sealing off run plays will be extremely important.
I think Rousseau would be a great fit for Seattle. They have weapons on weapons on offence and addressing the defensive line seems appropriate. If Rousseau slips as I expect him to, towards the latter half of the first round, he might just fall into their laps. And if he hits that upside… big win.
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