In each of the past four seasons, a Miami defensive end has finished in the top 5 in the ACC in sacks. In 2019, Gregory Rousseau led the Hurricanes and the conference with 15.5 sacks, finishing second only to Ohio State defensive end Chase Young. Rousseau’s sacks combined with his 19.5 tackles for loss earned him first-team All-ACC honors and ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Rousseau opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19. Some scouts believe this will hurt his draft stock, but he is universally expected to be a first round selection.
At 6-foot-7 and 265 pounds, Rousseau has the right build to be an edge rusher in the NFL. His length is one of his best attributes, as he can be 3-5 yards in the backfield in two strides. He can easily move past offensive linemen before they are able to square their shoulders to him. Rousseau’s first step is extremely quick, allowing him to be out of his stance before the offensive linemen have their hands up. This allows Rousseau to control the lineman and keep them off-balance.
However, Rousseau somewhat struggles against the run. Due to his length and quickness, he often goes too far upfield on run plays, opening a hole for the runner to get to the second level of the defense. However, Rousseau has shown that he can shed the blocker and make a tackle from behind if he is caught too far upfield. He also has great make up speed and can chase down most ball carriers.
Rousseau may struggle in camp and early in his rookie season in the NFL as he becomes acclimated to game speed once again due to opting out. His bad habit of getting too far upfield could be more evident, as his positioning and initial strike of the offensive lineman will be rusty. However, as long as the team that drafts him gives him opportunities to prove himself in games, I believe he can be successful.
Rousseau is a prototype speed rusher. He can beat offensive linemen and get to the quarterback with relative ease from defensive end, defensive tackle and nose guard. Even if Rousseau has regressed in his one year hiatus, he can still be at worst a rotational rusher on passing downs.
I would be surprised if Rousseau went outside of the top 20 on draft night. Teams will be high on him based on his measurables alone. While Rousseau likely will not be selected in the top 5, he could be taken at any point after that, as the Lions, Broncos, Cowboys, Giants, Vikings, Patriots and Raiders are all potential fits for him. I believe that the latest Gregory Rousseau could be drafted is 18th overall to the Miami Dolphins.