The Future: 2021 NFL Draft Prospects Gregory Rousseau
Gregory Rousseau had a stellar 2019 season with Miami. He recorded 15.5 sacks with 19.5 tackles for loss, 2 forced fumbles, and 54 total tackles. He has an animal off of the edge standing at about 6'6-6'7 and weighing in at about 250-260lbs. He is a very raw prospect as he was a wide receiver and defensive back in high school and has only been playing as an edge defender for 2 years since he opted out of the 2020 season. I think he is going to be one of the few players who is negatively affected by opting out. Some people had him penciled in as a top 5 pick before the pandemic and if he were able to progress as a pass rusher in 2020 he could've solidified himself as a top 5 pick. Like some other opt-outs, NFL scouts have not seen many of these players on a football field since early 2020 and have no clue as to how well these prospects have progressed over the past year. Below I will discuss what I've seen from Rousseau's 2020 game film in regards to his upfield burst, his pass rush, how he defends the run, how well he pursuits the ball carrier, and how well he can use his hands.
Upfield Burst: Rousseau's burst is solid. It's nothing special seeing him get off the line and get upfield to attack the quarterback. He simply doesn't possess that explosive jump upfield that you expect from a potential top 10 pick in the NFL Draft but he is a very raw prospect with elite upside. His burst is an area that he can improve upon considering he is a very good athlete.
Pass Rush: Rousseau is an edge rusher who can and has been moved all around the line from head up on centers to outside a downed tight end. When lined up on the center or inside against a guard he can show that he can dominate by using his length and athleticism to win on the inside. When lined up on the edge he is a very raw prospect who needs to improve on his overall technique, strength, and pass rush moves to succeed at the next level. He has shown some pass rush moves including a swim, push-pull, and bull rush but he is very inconsistent with how he uses them. He does have good natural strength that can improve greatly at the next level and lead to him having a very good bull rush. He was often double-teamed last year and his overall slim build has helped him in ways to split double teams.
Vs. Rush: Against the run is where he is at his best and most NFL ready as of his 2020 film. His length and athleticism allow him to beat and take on blockers. His length allows him to keep blockers from getting into his pads and controlling him. He does a very good job of getting down the LOS to get to ballcarriers when run away from him. On outside zone runs he does a good job of staying parallel to the LOS while not getting pushed back and making plays on the ballcarrier. His finish at the ballcarrier is very consistent and good with bringing them to the ground.
Use of hands: Rousseau does a solid job of using his hands and getting them in the right place to control offensive linemen but there is a lot of room for improvement which goes back to the idea of him being a very raw prospect with high upside. His length allows him to get hands-on first and keep blockers off of him. He is simply inconsistent with his hands, especially in his pass rush where there are times he shows elite hands and moves and times where he misses his marks and is very off with his hands.
Pursuits: His pursuit is very good. Pursuit often can be tied together with effort and his effort cannot be questioned. He does not give up on plays, does not take plays off, and goes until the whistle is blown every play. He has made plays against the run where he is lined up on the backside and the run is opposite of him and he still can make a play in the backfield. This area of his game will translate well to the next level as his effort should not come into question when scouts and general managers are discussing his scouting report.
At the end of the day, Rousseau is a very good athlete who will need time to develop into a potentially elite edge rusher who has the same build, frame, and play type as Myles Garrett. The team that drafts him needs to understand that he will need time and they need to stay patient with his development because it could pay off in a few years. Without knowing what he is doing since his opt-out it will be hard to draft him in the top 10 but on the other side, his upside will be hard to ignore when you are a team in need of an edge rusher inside the top 10. It will be very interesting to see what the future holds for Rousseau.