Miami defensive end Gregory Rousseau is an interesting prospect.
Rousseau only has one full season of college football under his belt. He played in 13 games as a redshirt freshman in 2019, and led the ACC in both sacks and tackles for a loss. He opted out of 2020 and registered for the draft in his first year of eligibility.
NFL scouts have the difficult task of deciding whether Rousseau was a one-hit wonder, or if he will become the next great NFL pass rusher.
Position: Defensive end
Weight: 266 pounds
Projected Round: Second
Rousseau might remind Cincinnati Bengals fans of Margus Hunt. He’s tall, strong, and a decent all-around athlete.
The other thing that stands out about Rousseau on film is his hands. In combination with his size, most of his sacks came from good hand placement. He also showed that he rarely gave up on the play, so even if he didn’t get good initial pressure, he was able to still get in the backfield.
His other sacks came when Miami kicked him inside, and he was able to take advantage of mismatches against interior linemen.
This is where scouts start to have concerns.
Granted, all great defensive linemen exploit mismatches like this at some point. But a significant chunk of Rousseau’s production came against the less athletic offensive linemen. This isn’t something he can expect to do much of in the NFL.
His film doesn’t show many mistakes or bad habits, but it shows a lack of bend and agility. This is going to be important for someone as tall as Rousseau to gain leverage over offensive linemen. Rousseau’s film also shows a lack of explosiveness or burst off of the line. He has a high motor that keeps going through the whistle, but he often gets off to a slow start.
While he had staggering production in his one year at college, there are concerns on what his film doesn’t show. He only had one year to show to the NFL, so scouts are worried about the full picture.
Has he corrected any of his shortcomings during the past season? Is he going to end up being a project in the NFL? It’s hard to say.
While Rousseau certainly has a high upside, he might have a low floor as well.
Fit with the Bengals
The Bengals still need defensive line depth for certain. However, the second round might not be where they would want to pick Rousseau.
The Bengals could certainly find a wide receiver or an offensive lineman in the second round that could compete for a starting spot as soon as training camp starts. Rousseau might not be able to beat Sam Hubbard for his starting spot, so it seems like there are better uses of the 38th overall pick.
The Bengals drafting Rousseau wouldn’t be the end of the world. He could provide much needed depth, and insurance incase Hubbard walks next offseason. The Bengals would have a year with Rousseau to see if he could be a starter opposite of Trey Hendrickson.
Still, he seems like a risky prospect, and the Bengals don’t often take risks in the draft.