With the NFL regular season having just finished, the Combine quickly approaching, and the NFL Draft just a few short months away, Canes fans are are anxious to see what happens to two players in particular, defensive ends Gregory Rousseau and Jaelan Phillips.
Unless he has a very poor showing at the NFL Combine, I fully expect Rousseau to be a first round draft pick, and hopefully going in the top-15.
#Miami EDGE Greg Rousseau has length and is such a fluid, smooth, graceful athlete. 15.5 sacks last year. Opted out of 2020. Raw right now, still figuring it out, but was STILL productive this year. Talking about him on this week’s Journey To The Drafthttps://t.co/eDpgJLJRyX pic.twitter.com/aseXavKvSI— Fran Duffy (@EaglesXOs) August 6, 2020
Rousseau opted out of the 2020 season for the Hurricanes, playing only one full season with Miami in college. In 2019, Rousseau registered 54 tackles, 15.5 sacks and 19.5 TFLs, earning first-team All-ACC honors as well as second-team All-America.
Miami ran Gregory Rousseau on the interior at points last season. He dominated there. They ran him as a pure DE, he dominated there. There was nothing he couldn’t do.— Kevin Fielder (@TheKevinFielder) March 15, 2020
This time next year, Gregory Rousseau might very well be EDGE1 in the 2021 NFL Draft. pic.twitter.com/pZnaug86qT
Due to his lack of game tape, Rousseau’s draft status isn’t as set in stone as some of the other projected first rounders, but NFL scouts rave about his skill-set and potential.
Miami DE Greg Rousseau, who recorded 15.5 sacks (second most in the country) last season, has opted out of the college football seaaon. He’s arguably the top draft eligible pass rusher in the 2021 NFL Draft class.— Field Yates (@FieldYates) August 6, 2020
Phillips, prior to the 2020 season, wasn’t a player you’d expect to be listed as a potential first-round pick in the 2021 Draft, given the fact that he didn't play in 2019, and had to come back from major injuries.
Still, Phillips made the most of his opportunity this past year for the Canes, becoming UM’s most dominant player on defense, finishing the season with 45 tackles, 8 sacks, 15.5 TFLs and an interception. Phillips was named a first-team All-American for the 2020 season.
His rise throughout the 2020 season even had him as a top-5 draft pick at one point, and while I don't think he’ll go that high, Phillips is an athlete who I see having a strong performance at the Combine, which will help his stock.
Say it with me now: Jaelan Phillips, first round pick.— Canes Legacy (@CanesLegacy) December 6, 2020
What a monster performance from him tonight. pic.twitter.com/BIbb2u8d5B
It’s pretty easy to see what scouts and talent evaluators see in Phillips as a defensive end, with a frame and body that looks like it’s ready for the NFL, and freaky athleticism that most players at his position simply don't have. His pass-rushing skills are what GM’s are looking for, and I believe he could potentially go higher than his projected 25th selection.