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2021 NFL Draft Profile: DE Gregory Rousseau

2021 NFL Draft Profile: DE Gregory Rousseau

Stefan Adams
This Miami Hurricanes’ one-year phenom in 2019 was an afterthought in 2020 after opting out of the season, but he has ignited tons of heated debates among NFL scouts about his potential at the next level, and he is looking to convince an NFL team his upside is worth taking a chance on in the first round.

Gregory Rousseau signed with Miami out of Champagnat Catholic in the class of 2018 as a raw and wiry defensive end project whom many expected to need multiple years of seasoning to actually contribute at the college level. Instead, Rousseau enrolled early at UM, quickly bulked up, and was making an impact in his first college spring, as his spring scrimmage performances were the stuff of legend. Unfortunately, his true freshman season in 2018 was cut short in just his second game due to a season-ending ankle injury, but that just seemed to motivate Rousseau even more. He returned in 2019 as a redshirt freshman to post an electric breakout year on his way to Freshman All-American status, ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year, and All-ACC First Team honors. Rousseau led the ACC in sacks (15.5) and tackles for loss (19.5), ranking second and ninth in the FBS, respectively, all while only starting 7 of UM’s 13 games that season. Heading into 2020, the expectations were through the roof for what Rousseau could do in his first full season as a starter, but he elected to opt-out of the season due to COVID concerns and prepare for the NFL Draft instead, ending his Hurricanes’ career prematurely.


Pre-Draft Measurables

Height
: 6’7”

Weight: 266 pounds

Arms: 34.375”

Hands: 11.125”


Strengths

Once-In-A-Generation Physical Traits/Frame

The NFL is filled with physically imposing freaks of nature, but Rousseau even stands out when compared to the elite of the elite. It’s just plain rare to see a guy 6’7” and pushing 270 pounds run a 4.67 40-yard dash with a jarring 1.57-second 10-yard split (faster than LSU WR Ja’Marr Chase). When you add in the incredible wingspan (83 1/4 inches), arm length (34 3/8 inches) and hand size (11 1/8 inches), you are talking about the type of defensive end prospect that might have been engineered in a lab.


Production/Versatility

Teams that value college players that simply produce on the football field will surely have Rousseau higher on their boards. In his lone season of play, led the ACC and finished second in the FBS in sacks (15.5) while starting only half the season and averaging around 40 snaps per game. Was asked to play every technique on the DL (while occasionally dropping into coverage as well) and found success pretty much everywhere, especially on the interior, where his first step and hand use were too much for guards to handle.


Weaknesses

Functional Athleticism/Strength

While Rousseau possesses many of the physical traits that portend success at the next level, many scouts also see his height in particular as a weakness in a way, as it can render him stiff and unable to produce leverage. Lacks the ideal twitch you would see on the edge, as many scouts point out most of his production actually came on the interior. Rousseau’s lower body is also considered underdeveloped for an NFL-level DE, leading to a lack of functional playing strength. Does not do a good job of converting his speed to power.


Run Defense

Too often gets washed out of the action on run plays. Struggles to dislodge from run blockers when taking on blocks and can get driven back easily. Does a poor job absorbing initial punches from linemen and frequently gets knocked off kilter/loses his balance. Needs to improve his fundamentals in these areas and more consistently win matchups with tight ends.


Draft Projection: Late 1st Round – Early 2nd Round

Following his opt-out in August of 2020, Rousseau was considered a lock to be a top 10 pick with his freakish traits and rare frame. Since then, though, the draft process has not been kind to Rousseau, as it is no longer a guarantee he will even be a first-round pick. Like many others, it seems like the opt-out ultimately ended up hurting Rousseau, as scouts have honed-in on his weaknesses from his essentially one season of college tape from 2 years ago, and he hasn’t really had the opportunity to show improvement in any of those areas. From an anonymous Director of Scouting for an NFL Team: "I don't really see a big-time NFL rusher. So much of his pressure came as a zero-technique and he won't see those looks in our league. He has very average juice and speed-to-power.” So, while some teams see him as having high “bust” potential, the upside with Rousseau is still too great to see him falling much further than early on Day 2.
 

Comments (19)

Would give a thumbs up but the anonymous Director of Scouting is a rumor on a rumor.

The kid was a WR/Safety 3-4 years ago. He's still growing into his body and the role. The time off to do nothing but S&C was clearly well spent based on his Pro Day. His legs didn't look underdeveloped then.

Not saying your article was negative, it wasn't. But I believe he's being talked down by ghosts and he will he go higher than projected here. Greg will be a bigtime NFL player.
 
Would give a thumbs up but the anonymous Director of Scouting is a rumor on a rumor.

The kid was a WR/Safety 3-4 years ago. He's still growing into his body and the role. The time off to do nothing but S&C was clearly well spent based on his Pro Day. His legs didn't look underdeveloped then.

Not saying your article was negative, it wasn't. But I believe he's being talked down by ghosts and he will he go higher than projected here. Greg will be a bigtime NFL player.
Yeah, that’s what I thought too at first regarding the negative talk. But it’s been coming from all over for months at this point, I think it’s pretty much a forgone conclusion he’s slipping into the 20’s at least. When a player’s value is slipping, you naturally get the negative talk from scouts as a result of having to justify the change in value, but obviously a guy that’s a late first round pick is still very highly regarded in the grand scheme of things.

I could easily see a team like the Ravens gladly scooping him up at 27. Ozzie Newsome is known for taking those falling studs that everyone else talks themselves out of and most of the time he laughs his way to the bank.

Some of the concerns are backed up on tape, but I also agree that they’re becoming way too overblown, like when it becomes such a common/popular talking point to say a guy is overrated and his value is driven so far downward that he actually starts to become underrated; I think we're past that point. I’d personally have no problem taking him in the first half of the first round and see Greg being a very good player in the NFL.
 
Once-In-A-Generation Physical Traits/Frame

The NFL is filled with physically imposing freaks of nature, but Rousseau even stands out when compared to the elite of the elite. It’s just plain rare to see a guy 6’7” and pushing 270 pounds run a 4.67 40-yard dash with a jarring 1.57-second 10-yard split (faster than LSU WR Ja’Marr Chase). When you add in the incredible wingspan (83 1/4 inches), arm length (34 3/8 inches) and hand size (11 1/8 inches), you are talking about the type of defensive end prospect that might have been engineered in a lab.
this is my view. You don’t pass up this rare a prototype. Plus he’s young with room to develop.
 
Why do we get all blown when scouts detail the "supposed" weaknesses of our guys? Hell! Even players express facets of their game they need to work on and many times it's what they have been told or what they hear from Scouts. It's the reality.
 
Here is one of a hundred scouting reports done on Dion Jordan when he came out. Mel Kiper said he was the best DL he'd ever seen. This is why scouting reports and combines mean very little,

Well tell that to the Dolphins. Hahahah

Summary: There has been a lot of talk that the 2013 draft class lacks elite talent at the top. That is definitely true for the quarterback position, but there are some rare defensive front-seven prospects and Jordan is one of the headliners. He is an athletic freak who combines explosive speed with amazing athletic ability. There are very few players who have Jordan's agility and mobility as a linebacker. At times, he looks like a basketball player playing football.

Jordan started out his collegiate career at tight end. He was moved to defensive end in 2010 and recorded 33 tackles with 5.5 tackles for a loss. Jordan made real strides in 2011 and produced a lot more with 42 tackles, 13 tackles for a loss and 7.5 sacks. The junior was a First-Team All-Pac-12 selection.

Jordan had another good season this year with 44 tackles, 10.5 tackles for a loss, three forced fumbles and five sacks. Oregon's coaches hurt his pass-rushing opportunities as the team often dropped him into pass coverage. The Ducks were playing with big leads and often pulled Jordan from games in the second half as they emptied the bench. He also dealt with some injuries.

Because Jordan is so athletic, Oregon was creative with how its used him. THe Ducks had him ran for a two-point conversion in his collegiate final against Kansas State. He had scored two other two-point conversions in 2010.

Jordan put on a clinic in the field drills at the Combine. He was extremely fast in the 40 with a time of 4.60 seconds, fluid in the field drills and a natural as an outside linebacker. Jordan had shoulder surgery after the Combine and could start to add weight to his frame once he is done rehabbing.

It is clear that there are few players who have Jordan's athleticism and are capable of playing in the defensive front seven. He has a great burst off the snap to rush the passer around the edge. His closing speed is excellent for chasing down quarterbacks and running backs.

Jordan's game could use some refinement with him improving his pass-rushing moves, but in time, he could easily be one of the top outside linebackers in the NFL. Jordan is a natural in a 3-4 but also can play in a 4-3 system. With his rare speed and athleticism, he looks like a lock for a top-10 pick in the 2013 NFL Draft.
 
Some teams will talk themselves out of selecting GR15 mid-first. Finances aside, being drafted by a better team in the 20-32 range could end up a better long term situation than going to a bad organization consistently drafting in the top 10. I saw one mock draft having Tampa Bay at #32, as a prospect to develop behind JPP. As a Bucs fan I would love this.
 
Some teams will talk themselves out of selecting GR15 mid-first. Finances aside, being drafted by a better team in the 20-32 range could end up a better long term situation than going to a bad organization consistently drafting in the top 10. I saw one mock draft having Tampa Bay at #32, as a prospect to develop behind JPP. As a Bucs fan I would love this.
This is exactly the insanity that the NFL will let happen.
 
It's a weak year for ends. I'm not passing on Greg for less productive guys like Paye and Oweh. Don't care how athletic they are, if you aren't producing in college, more likely you aren't going to do it in the pros either. Like canecrazy just posted Dion Jordan's production in college doesn't show a can't miss prospect the way scouts talked him up to be that year. These talking heads on ESPN that never played the game don't understand that.
 
It's a weak year for ends. I'm not passing on Greg for less productive guys like Paye and Oweh. Don't care how athletic they are, if you aren't producing in college, more likely you aren't going to do it in the pros either. Like canecrazy just posted Dion Jordan's production in college doesn't show a can't miss prospect the way scouts talked him up to be that year. These talking heads on ESPN that never played the game don't understand that.
It absolutely amazes me that these scouts can look at a Giant who had one of the best years by a DL in 20 years at the U and think he's not worth a 1st day pick. Hahahahah So many teams are going to be kicking themselves. I just hope my Phins are smart enough to scoop him up if he's there. He would kill it in Flores system. OMG
 
If he would have just played instead of using the covid excuse he could have been top 5 and duplicated his previous year.
 
If he would have just played instead of using the covid excuse he could have been top 5 and duplicated his previous year.
Who knows. We probably still would have kicked dhim inside on 3rd downs which is what I keep hearing people mention as negative on him. Guy shows he's versatile to move inside on 3rd downs and excel and it's been used as a negative.
 
If he would have just played instead of using the covid excuse he could have been top 5 and duplicated his previous year.
Not necessarily, but I get your point. One of the biggest concerns with Greg is that he lacks technique. Playing this year could have given him a opportunity to improve in this area. Having said that, guys like Joe Jackson and Garvin were both projected first rounders before entering their junior seasons. They both ended up dropping in production
 
May have been posted already or in another thread/site but I really think these “anonymous” scouts are just doing what they can in hopes he falls later into their laps. Give folks some doubt in hopes earlier teams don’t pick him. Not the first time it’s happened either.
 

2022 Commits

WR
6'2"
185
Nashville, TN
CB
6'0"
160
Lexington, MS
QB
6'4"
205
Valdosta, GA
CB
6'1"
175
Fort Myers, FL
CB
6'2"
180
Alabaster, AL
S
6'1"
170
Orlando, FL
WR
6'1"
185
Mandeville, LA
MLB
6'1"
210
Manvel, TX
OT
6'7"
275
Sandersville, GA

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