In Part I of the Pro Day Preview, I provided a broad picture of the unorthodox 2021 Draft Process. Part II explores each Miami prospect’s current Draft Status and what to watch for today:
Gregory Rousseau, EDGE:
What to Watch: Three Cone Drill (ability to show flexibility, body control, and strength while moving quickly); Positional Drills (first time Rousseau has been in a football environment in over a year, eradicate any doubts as to NFL-ready fitness/preparedness)
The most anticipated action at today’s Pro Day will be Rousseau’s workouts and drills. The tenacious pass rusher put the football world on notice in 2019 with bolstering numbers even though he started only seven games. The production was enough to earn GR15 a top ten overall grade from most draft experts/publications going into last season.
Miami is holding its Pro Day today, broadcast on ACC Network. With Gregory Rousseau and Jaelan Phillips, Miami could become the first school since NC State in 2006 with Mario Williams and Manny Lawson to have two defensive ends go in the first round.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 29, 2021
However, after opting out this past season, his draft stock has since dipped due to questions regarding the small sample size/rawness, an ankle injury his freshman season, and whether the skills will translate at the next level. There’s no doubt his gumby-like frame and length will be alluring and still warrants a first round grade. Even more, his potential upside could be through the roof as NFL teams seek to assess whether he remains DE1 in this class as he competes with the likes of Michigan’s Kwity Paye, Georgia’s Azeez Ojulari, Penn State’s Jayson Oweh, and Miami’s own Jaelan Phillips. Where Rousseau ranks among his peers will largely be contingent upon how he moves and tests today as today marks over 400-days since Rousseau has been involved in any type of football environment (besides spring practices).
In theory, Rousseau has had roughly half a year to specifically cater his workouts to dominate the Pro Day drills. And yes there is a difference between preparing to be in Pro Day shape as opposed to game day ready, which was detailed in yesterday’s article.
NFL evaluators will be viewing Rousseau’s every move with a microscope. Scouts will certainly hone in on his technique in order to determine not only if he has maintained his shape from 2019, but also whether he is NFL-ready and worthy of a top ten selection. The focus will be on his length, but the prospect will also be under immense scrutiny to ensure he remains twitchy at a top notch level and still possesses the competent strength/quick movements to earn an EDGE1 selection in this draft class.
Strong Historical three-cone drill performances from pass-rushing prospects: Bruce Irvin (6.70 in 2012), Von Miller (6.70 in 2011) and DeMarcus Ware (6.83 in 2005).
ESPN NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper has Gregory Rousseau, Jaelan Phillips late Round 1, Quincy Roche 3rd round, Brevin Jordan 4th-5th round: https://t.co/1H3GdOIFWA— CaneSport Miami Hurricanes (@CaneSport) March 1, 2021
Jaelan Phillips, EDGE:
What to Watch: Three Cone Drill (ability to show flexibility, body control, and strength while moving quickly, and eliminate any questions concerning his “injury” risk); Overall Mentality, Interviews, and Body Language (previously medically retired, teams want to ensure he has that innate “it” factor)
Phillips’ Pro Day routine will likely be comparable to Rousseau’s schedule as they are both lengthy EDGE defenders. The UCLA transfer reaped the most benefits of Rousseau’s opt out as the physical freak exponentially improved as the season progressed as Miami’s starting EDGE defender.
However, similar to Rousseau, Phillips biggest sell point right now was having only one productive season at the collegiate level. The former five-star recruit indubitably has the athleticism to excel at any level.
Phillip’s scouting report weaknesses largely stem from previous injuries at UCLA and mentality concerns due to a previous medical retirement from college football. Phillips put together a strong enough 2020 season to silence many doubters as he is being considered in the upper echelon of EDGE defenders.
The intangible “issues” are unlikely to be unraveled at a Pro Day but some of his mentality could be vetted out during the interview process. Teams may hone in on his retirement and potentially place a heightened emphasis on his body language. During his draft path, Phillips has been vocal about eliminating these concerns while also putting the world on notice about Coach David Feeley’s Strength & Conditioning Program and selling Miami as the best transfer destination.
Crazy what hard work and a mindset change can do https://t.co/w4WXHHawfX— Jaelan Phillips ; ® (@JJPhillips15) January 22, 2021
As far as the workouts, like for Rousseau, scouts will focus on Phillips’ three cone drill. The three cone drill will assess how loose a player is, i.e. not stiff in their movement, as well as their body control as players move as close to the cones as possible, as quickly as possible. The idea is to simulate setting the edge, albeit not while trying to flank 300-lb offensive tackles.
“Jaelan Phillips...The U ”— Jaelan Phillips ; ® (@JJPhillips15) January 26, 2021
Phillips often relies on his athleticism, first step, and has the prototypical size to excel as a high end EDGE guy. However, his technique and ability to diagnose, both of which are easily coachable, could use some sharpening. In positional drills, teams will focus on his pursuit capabilities, especially against RPO schemes.
Quincy Roche, DE/LB:
What to Watch: Shuttle Run (can provide somewhat of a preview as to how quickly a player can diagnose and body control when moving in different directions); Versatility in Positional Drills (prove an ability to get it done in multiple ways)
Roche did have a little more exposure during the draft process as he was able to increase his stock at the Reese’s Senior Bowl. Roche impressed during practices when lined up against highly touted Alabama tackle, Alex Leatherwood, as he effectively utilized his quick hands and first step/swim move.
However, Roche’s measurements were considered on the lower side compared to other EDGE defenders as he checked in at 6-2, 243-lbs with a 80.38-inch wingspan, and 32-inch arms. Based on these dimensions and as opposed to Rousseau and Phillips who have the body to be pure EDGE guys, evaluators may focus in on Roche’s ability to play in space as linebacker.
Roche’s tape does indicate he can play with his hand in the dirt or as a standup outside linebacker. However, Roche very rarely played in pass coverage and was sometimes repetitive with his technique. Due to his smaller frame, evaluators will focus in on his versatility.
The shift may not be necessary if Roche continues to prove he is capable of beating top tier prospects at the line of scrimmage. That being said, take Jonathan Garvin for example. Throughout his collegiate career at Miami, Garvin was almost exclusively utilized on the defensive line. However, after being selected by the Green Bay Packers in the seventh round of the 2020 NFL Draft, Garvin appears to have shifted to linebacker at the pro level.
Nice rep by Miami DE Quincy Roche vs. Alabama OT Alex Leatherwood in the second Senior Bowl practice pic.twitter.com/S7W3rQrWQ8— Christopher Stock (@InsideTheU) January 27, 2021
Thus, the shuttle run will be important for Roche. The shuttle run will help teams assess how well he navigates laterally. In position drills, teams may want Roche to lineup at the line of scrimmage as well as and see how well-versed he is at diagnosing run or pass plays. If he can prove he has the versatility to operate as an off-ball linebacker and an ability to move different directions in space, as well as on the line of scrimmage, his stock will skyrocket.
Roche had a very productive 2019 season at Temple but was not filling the stat sheets in his lone season at Miami this past year. That being said, he did create opportunities on the line of scrimmage for players such as Phillips and the defensive tackles who were able to hurry opposing QBs all season long.
4 games of Quincy Roche done. Watched UAB, Clemson, VATECH, UNC.— Zach (All-22 Addict) Gartin (@All22_Addict) March 26, 2021
+INTENTIONAL Hand placement
+Technically sound pass rusher
+Wide array of outside moves
+Flashes a decent first step
+Flashes potential vs. the run
*Decent Athlete pic.twitter.com/Y5TXraCOan
Due to his frame, working as an outside LB in a 3-4 defense seems to make the most sense for Roche at the NFL level, but he could easily be utilized in pass rush formations due to his football IQ and impressive play up front, as well as lateral movements/directional explosiveness.
Strong Historical shuttle run performances from linebacker prospects: Jordan Hicks (4.15 in 2015), Avery Williamson (4.07 in 2014), Luke Kuechly (4.12 in 2012) and Derrick Johnson (3.88 in 2005).
Brevin Jordan, TE:
What to Watch: Vertical Jump (lower body explosiveness and ability to win contested catch battles), Bench (upper body strength dictates ability to body defenders), Short shuttle (quick bursts); Route tree (indication of how finetuned the route running is and sure-handedness)
As far as Tight end rankings for the 2021 NFL draft, it goes TE1: Florida’s Kyle Pitts... *large gap*.... TE2: [unknown], some mix of Brevin Jordan, Penn State’s Pat Freiermuth, Boston College’s Hunter Long, Notre Dame’s Tommy Tremble, Georgia’s Tre McKitty, among others.
As Jordan hopes to narrow that monumental gap between him and Pitts and emerge as TE2, he has been making the rounds to get his name circulating in draft rooms. The last and biggest stop being the Pro Day. Namely, Jordan has been interviewing with a slew of media outlets, including being featured on the NFL Network’s Path to the Draft with host Andrew Siciliano. Even more, Jordan has been marketing himself, most recently during his “mock combine,” where he posted on his Twitter account that he ran a 40-yard dash in 4.56 seconds, recorded 38’ in the vertical jump, and completed the shuttle in 4.19 seconds.
The impressive numbers are well ahead of the average Tight End numbers at the combine according to mockdraftable.com, which indicate the average 40-yard dash for tight ends is 4.777 seconds, the average vertical jump is 32.97’, and the average shuttle is 4.371. Of course, due to hand-timed/self-timed issues, the official numbers at the Pro Day will be more telling as to how Jordan stacks up from an athleticism standpoint.
Out of the five Miami prospects, Jordan has the broadest projected draft range as he has been considered TE2 by some experts but also received a lowly 4th-5th round grade from ESPN NFL Draft guru, Mel Kiper Jr. To that end, Jordan affords to benefit - or slip - the most as a result of his Pro Day performance.
Due to the fact that a Tight End is essentially a mix between a wide receiver and offensive lineman insofar as they are graded based on a combination of their pass-catching and blocking ability, their are a number of drills that are important for players at the position.
4.19 shuttle IM READY DAWG and I got abs now no cap pic.twitter.com/8hfuj6gkea— B r e v i n J o r d a n (@Brevinjordan) March 11, 2021
The most important drill will be the vertical jump, especially because Jordan is an effective pass-catcher. The vertical jump not only helps project how well a tight end could be expected to haul in jump catches, but can show how much power and explosiveness they can generate from the lower body for blocking purposes. Jordan may already have a slight advantage from his game tape where he hurdled a Louisville defender this past season. The shuttle drill will also help with honing in on short area quickness, an important trait for tight ends. Lastly, the bench press will show how strong Jordan is in the upper body region.
For positional drills, Jordan will be put through the entire route tree to see how seasoned his route-running ability is and how sure his hands are. This will not only play a large part of proving his skills at the position, but also should get him direct, hands on face time with various NFL staffers. In fact, one of his peers, Pat Freiermuth from Penn State, was seen working very closely with the Steelers TE coach, Alfredo Roberts, during Thursday’s Penn State Pro Day (he did not test due to injury but went through particularized workouts).
38’ just a mock combine but I’m ready for my pro day. pic.twitter.com/5yDWosuaHa— B r e v i n J o r d a n (@Brevinjordan) March 11, 2021
Jordan may also be put through drills that can assess his blocking ability. Notably, Jordan recently emphasized how much blocking the Canes’ EDGE guys has helped sharpen his skills, and he’s certainly got a point based on his fellow draft prospects.
Strong Historical vertical jump performances from tight end prospects: Jimmy Graham (38.5 in 2010), Greg Olsen (35.5 in 2007) and Vernon Davis (42.0 in 2006).
What to Watch: Consistency from 20-yards to 50-yards; Pressure Kicking; 60+ yarders
The kicker position has gotta be one of the most unforgiving jobs in football. When you do your job and make a kick, it’s expected. When you miss a key kick, however, the whole village hates you and they will not forget.
As far as Borregales goes, the pressure will definitely be there on Pro Day as his future employers will quite literally be breathing down his neck watching his every kick. In a year where Borregales was nearly perfect and connected on a 57-yarder, he seems to be one of the top, if not the top, kicker prospects in this draft. However, a very nitpicky criticism of Borregales is one out of his control - the fact that he did not kick in front of fans this year nor did he have much exposure to cold weather kicking. Both of which are key features of kicking at the next level.
That being said, Borregales has been money in clutch situations (remember his kicks that aided in beating Miami in 2019) and long boots (57-yarder against Louisville in prime time). Borregales had a preview of what he could see at Pro Day among scouts when he was able to practice and interact with scouts in attendance at the Senior Bowl in January.
Another area evaluators may look at is how Borregales reacts when he inevitably misses kicks. Mentality is a huge aspect of kicking.
53 and 58 today to end the sesh. Pro Day’s up next✅ pic.twitter.com/Wr1hvv61r3— Jose Borregales (@F5_Jose) March 19, 2021
As far as competition at the position, Borregales seems to be in a good spot to be the first kicker selected, but Alex Kessman (Pitt), Riley Patterson (Memphis), and Evan McPherson (Florida) could also be in the mix.
Further, Borregales will likely have to wait until the later rounds until his name is called. The draft is weird though, especially at special teams positions. Last year, for example, the Patriots took the first kicker in the draft when they selected Justin Rohrwasser from Marshall but ESPN had no footage of him. Rohrwasser has since been cut.
Alternatively, Tyler Bass and Rodrigo Blankenship were selected after Rohrwasser and undrafted, respectively, in 2020 and ended up winning the starting jobs for their teams at the NFL level. Let’s also not forget Roberto Aguayo from FSU going second round (and is now on the Patriots practice squad), or the infamous 17th overall selection by Al Davis of Sebastian Janikowski. Maybe Borregales will be the first Cane selected if something crazy happens!
Bonus Points: Teams have been unique with their Pro Days. For example, USC included projected top tier 2022 Draft quarterback, Kedon Slovis, to throw passes to this year’s wide receiver prospect, Amon-Ra St. Brown.
Could we see Tyler Van Dyke or Peyton Matocha throwing to Brevin Jordan? Jordan likely has developed some rapport with these signal callers as opposed to freshman, Jake Garcia. Could we see the offensive lineman such as Zion Nelson, who is a potential first round 2022 Draft pick in blocking drills, or Jarrid Williams, against the EDGE trio? Any involvement of the current Canes could provide invaluable exposure to NFL scouts and coaches.
Also, keep in mind that older free agents have the opportunity to try out at the Pro Day in front of the NFL personnel if they so desire. For example, some players still looking for an opportunity such as Trevon Hill, Romeo Finley, and yes, Jeff Thomas, could be in attendance. This is a common sight at Pro Days but nothing has been announced as of yet. Defensive tackle, Chigozie Nnoruka, who transferred from UCLA and played at Miami in 2019, will also be participating today.
Gregory Rousseau knows the Jaelan Phillips hype is real pic.twitter.com/UjArINHyLT— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) February 9, 2021
Regardless, the focus will be on the five prospects who are eligible for the 2021 NFL Draft as this will likely be the last, and most important, opportunity to impress NFL evaluators. There is a chance the players opt for additional individualized pro days before the draft in late-April, similar to Alabama QB, Mac Jones, who will be having another Pro Day this week. However, without more information on that front, the Pro Day and upcoming virtual interviews will be the final steps in the process before April’s Draft.
For viewers, the live broadcast will be televised on the ACC Network from 1pm to 3pm. Let’s see who can earn more money today.