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Miami Hurricanes 2021 NFL Draft Profile: EDGE Gregory Rousseau

Rousseau Has Recently Been Deemed a Tricky Evaluation Due to Limited Tape, But the Freakish Playmaker Should Add Value to an NFL Team

Miami opt out Greg Rousseau expanding his game ahead of NFL draft Michael Laughlin/Sun Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Last summer, Gregory “Greg” Rousseau, was being projected as high as a top two overall draft pick and almost a lock top ten selection by most draft pundits. However, after Rousseau opted out of the 2020 on August 6th to focus on draft preparation, his stock slipped. And at Miami’s Pro Day last month, which was the first time Rousseau was made available to the public in a football environment in nearly a year and a half, the lengthy EDGE defender did not necessarily cement himself in the first round conversation, according to sources.

EDGE Gregory Rousseau Draft Snapshot:

2021 NFL Draft Ranking* - 32nd Overall, EDGE5

(Position Ranking based on composite average of 50 big boards)
Height: 6’06.5” (98th Percentile)
Weight: 266-pounds (67th Percentile)
Hand: 11-inch (99th Percentile)
Arm: 34 3⁄4 inch (92nd Percentile)
Wing: 83 1⁄4 inch

Pro Football Focus (PFF) Grades
- Overall 2018 PFF Grade: 67.0, 17 Snaps, 2 Run Stops
- Overall 2019 PFF Grade: 76.2, 529 Snaps, 21 Run Stops, 24 QB Hurries

Pro Day Results:

Vertical: 30-inch (14th Percentile)
Bench Press: 21 reps (39th Percentile)
Broad Jump: 9’7” (42nd Percentile)
40-yard: 4.69 (71st Percentile)
Shuttle: 4.45 (36th Percentile)
3-Cone: 7.5 (16th Percentile)

Background:

Humble Beginnings, Homegrown Product

Rousseau hails from local roots as he spent his high school years at Coconut Creek Monarch High School and Champagnat Catholic (Hialeah) and is thus a prime example of a homegrown product that went to the U. And even though he has received national acclaim in the past couple seasons, he was not necessarily a highly touted recruit. In fact, most schools initially sought the 6-7 athletic freak as a wide receiver or safety.

During his high school tenure, Rousseau predominantly played wideout and safety/linebacker, and made the All-State Second Team his junior year. In his senior season at Champagnat Catholic, Rousseau ended up putting himself on the map at defensive end where he finished the season with 80 tackles and 10 sacks on his way to First Team All-County honors. With a larger frame, Rousseau ended up seeing his recruiting ranking rise to 485th in the nation (three-star) and 27th best at the defensive end position.

Rousseau opted for Miami over the likes of Tennessee, South Carolina, USC, Oregon, and LSU, among others. Rousseau not only bought into an opportunity to stay close to home, but also the chance to work closely under then-HC, Mark Richt, who had groomed a number of NFL pass rushers during his time at Georgia (Jarvis Jones, Justin Houston, Geno Atkins, Quentin Moses, Charles Johnson, David Pollack, Charles Grant, Johnathan Sullivan) and then-DC, Manny Diaz, who helped previously develop similar pro pass rushers as an assistant at NC State (Mario Williams, Manny Lawson) and Texas (Alex Okafor, Emmanuel Acho, Malcom Brown, Jordan Hicks).

Player Profile:

Despite showing immense promise his true freshman season, Rousseau’s inaugural campaign was cut short after just 17 snaps due to an ankle injury, which subsequently resulted in a redshirt season. Rousseau began his second year as a bench player and was primarily utilized in third down passing situations up until he put the Miami coaching staff - and the country - on notice that he was a truly gifted EDGE talent. Rousseau ultimately earned the starting job as he compiled bolstering numbers in 2019: 54 Tackles, 19.5 TFL, 15.5 Sacks, 2 FF in 13 games (7 games started). His 15.5 sacks trailed only 2020 second overall pick, Chase Young.

Rousseau wreaked havoc on opposing blockers and QBs in 2019, which led many Canes fan to believe they would have the most formidable starting duo in the country in Rousseau and Temple transfer EDGE, Quincy Roche, in the 2020 season. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic (Rousseau’s mother, Anne, is a frontline healthcare nurse) and Rousseau’s already seemingly established draft stock, he opted out for 2020 in order to focus on getting ready for the NFL Draft.

Many questioned, and continue to question the decision, as Rousseau’s draft grade has seemingly slipped into the second round according to most draft experts. Due to the fact that Rousseau’s only exposure to analysts in the last year and a half was his Pro Day - which did not do much to help his argument (he scored below the 50th Percentile in all drills besides the 40-yard dash) - he has been classified as an enigmatic evaluation.

Still, Rousseau is an incredibly raw but talented prospect. 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 continue to analyze him. Rousseau exhibits immense twitchiness as he turns his long frame into power with long and coordinated body movements, as well as an ability to work through the gaps and disrupt passers with his reach. He has proven to be a quick learner with very limited experience at EDGE since high school.

On the flip side, the raw technique will need to be sharpened at the next level as he definitely has relied on his athleticism and frame to date. The ankle injury his freshman year did require surgery so there are some health concerns, albeit something he was clearly able to come back from and did not impede his growth in his second year. Whether he can translate at the NFL level on an every down basis lead to the apparent questions from anonymous scouts as of late.

Strengths/Positives

  • Unteachable Size and Length
  • Stellar Production in 2019
  • High Motor
  • Versatility (Can Win Inside or Outside and played everywhere in high school)
  • High Football IQ
  • Quality Character Guy

Weaknesses/Negatives

  • Raw/Lack of Experience
  • Relies on Athleticism and Frame
  • Ankle Injury Freshman Year that required Surgery
  • Needs to Develop Full NFL Technique/Repertoire
  • “Skinny Little Guy”

Best NFL Fits (First Round Pick): Titans (22), Giants (11), Falcons (4) , Cowboys (10), Vikings (14), Chiefs (31), Colts (21), Texans (None), Dolphins (6, 18), Bills (30), Ravens (27)
NFL Comparisons: Chandler Jones, Ted Hendricks

Bottom Line:

There remain questions after Rousseau opted out after only seven starts at the collegiate level. However, Miami legend and current Baltimore Raven, Calais Campbell, said it best when he clapped back at scouts and advised them not to overthink this one. Rousseau can play and is a straight up beast and playmaker who has the size and athleticism that NFL teams would be lucky to have. No matter what happens, Rousseau has a class act attitude and he will be grateful for an opportunity in the NFL as he will be present in Cleveland this week. His ceiling is high, especially if his relatively untapped growth continues.

Draft Night Projection: (1st or 2nd Round)

30th Overall to the Buffalo Bills. After a visit to the AFC Championship in 2020, Buffalo could use some help on the front line. They drafted another lengthy EDGE guy last year in Iowa’s A.J. Epenesa, but the depth is not quite there.