Miami defensive end Gregory Rousseau produced 19.5 tackles for loss and 15.5 sacks in 2019, which is the last exposure we have of him playing college football as he opted out of the 2020 season and declared for the 2021 NFL Draft. While the production is eye-popping and he has an exciting physical skill set, his game is underdeveloped, which comes as no surprise given his relative newness to playing on the defensive line after a high school career where he primarily played wide receiver and safety. While Rousseau’s frame and length jump off the tape, his lack of technical refinement, processing skills, and functional strength are concerning when projecting him to the next level. It will be important for the franchise that selects Rousseau to understand the need for patience with his development. Rousseau suffered a season-ending fractured ankle in 2018 after just two games and opted out of 2020, leaving 2019 as the only year of film to evaluate and his rawness was evident. With patience and development, Rousseau has the upside to become an impact defender that can play all across the defensive line in multiple fronts.
Ideal Role: Starting defensive end that gets chances to rush from the interior.
Scheme Fit: Can play in a defense that is multiple with its fronts.
Written by Joe Marino
Games watched: Pittsburgh (2019), Florida State (2019), Louisville (2019), Florida (2019), Virginia (2019)
Best Game Studied: Florida State (2019)
Worst Game Studied: Louisville (2019)
First-Step Explosiveness: Rousseau lacks explosiveness when releasing out of his stance which creates challenges creating a half-man relationship with his blocker and positioning himself favorably to attack the edges. He will occasionally shoot a gap and showcase some burst but if he’s playing straight, his first step lacks suddenness. He does benefit from having long stride length, which helps him gain ground and mitigate his lack of initial burst.
Flexibility: For his gangly frame, Rousseau has some impressive smoothness to his mobility, which mostly shows up when he executes a zone coverage drop. Additionally, he showcases good ankle flexion and there are plenty of reps where he gets his foot to catch well outside his frame and it enables him to make tight turns. With that said, he doesn’t have loose hips which becomes problematic when he’s trying to corner the outside hip of blockers and when attempting to reduce his surface area.
Hand Counters: Rousseau generally does well to use his length to keep his pads clean, but he fails to blend his anatomical length with effective hand counters to clear contact in a way that translates to the next level. His game is missing the ability to counter and string together moves. While his hand placement is effective, he must develop a consistent repertoire of swipes and counters to maximize his playmaking potential in the NFL.
Length: Rousseau has vines for arms, which he generally uses to his advantage in playing with extension and keeping his pads clean. Rousseau’s length is a major asset as a tackler given how much it expands his tackle radius—which frequently shows up on film. His robust tackle for loss numbers are often a result of him playing with extension, keeping his pads clean, and positioning himself to disengage from blocks to finish, often taking advantage of his massive tackle radius.
Hand Power: Rousseau looks the part of a compression-style defensive end with long arms and heavy hands, but the heavy hands component is missing. Rousseau needs to do a better job of activating his hands with urgency and generating more pop in his strikes to take control of reps. There aren’t many instances where his punch stuns blockers and creates opportunities for Rousseau to dictate the down.
Run Defending: Rousseau has a wiry frame that has plenty of room to add bulk to increase his mass and functional strength to hold up better at the point of attack. When Rousseau does get his hands placed, his length is a major asset in setting the edge and maintaining outside leverage. Unfortunately, Rousseau’s inexperience at the position shows up regularly on running plays where his block and play diagnosing skills reveal inconsistency.
Effort: Rousseau plays with good urgency on every rep and competes. He is routinely willing to pursue the football, even when the distance between him and the ball carrier is significant. There’s a good chunk of the plays he made behind the line of scrimmage in 2019 that were a result of him continuing his effort to beat his man, get near the football, disengage and finish.
Football IQ: Rousseau is still relatively new to the position after spending most of his high school career at wide receiver and safety. He does not consistently identify blocks and properly counter, leading to issues with him maintaining his gap integrity. There is a considerable lack of technical skills, primarily with his hands, that speak to a need to further learn the nuances of playing defensive line.
Lateral Mobility: Rousseau is a fairly smooth athlete that doesn’t labor to work down the line of scrimmage in pursuit. There are some impressive reps where he drops into space and showcases easy movement skills in all directions.
Versatility: Rousseau primarily aligned at left end for Miami, but got some opportunities to play on the interior as well. With added functional strength and developed technique, Rousseau should offer the ability to play multiple spots along the defensive line in the NFL from a variety of fronts. Rousseau has the ability to be asset in zone coverage drops and on the field goal block unit on account of his length.
Prospect Comparison: Tyler Brayton (2003 NFL Draft, Oakland Raiders)
TDN Consensus: 83.25 / 100
Joe Marino: 82.00/100
Jordan Reid: 83.00/100
Drae Harris: 83.00/100
Kyle Crabbs: 85.00/100
- Aug 12, 2022
- Aug 11, 2022