Editor's note: Gregory Rousseau announced on Aug. 6, a couple months after this post was initially published, that he's opting out of the 2020 season amid the COVID-19 pandemic and intends to enter the 2021 NFL Draft as an underclassman.
NFL.com analyst and former NFL scout Daniel Jeremiah takes a "first look" at some of college football's top players for 2020. This is the fifth in a series of scouting reports that will run throughout the offseason.
We're all familiar with the phrase "love at first sight." Well, that's what happened when I studied my first tape of Gregory Rousseau. He possesses all of the traits and skills I look for in a pass rusher. He jumps off the screen. I'm usually very cautious when I evaluate players over the summer. Not this time. To borrow a line from one of my favorite sports movies, he had me at hello. Here's my scouting report on the Miami Hurricanes' redshirt sophomore.
Height, weight: 6-foot-7, 253 pounds (school measurements).
2019 statistics: 54 tackles (34 solo), 19.5 for loss, 15.5 sacks, one pass defensed, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery.
Game tape watched: Virginia Tech (Oct. 5, 2019), Florida State (Nov. 2, 2019), Duke (Nov. 30, 2019).
What I liked: If I had to limit my evaluation to a two-word description, it would be consistently dominant. Rousseau was clearly the best player on the field in all three of the games I studied. He lines up all over the defensive front, playing on the edge (occasionally standing up), at 3-technique (edge of the guard) or even head up over the center on obvious passing downs. He can win with his speed/quickness in every one of those alignments and his hands are very polished. He's extremely long and does a nice job pressing out blocks before escaping to create pressure.
Against the run, Rousseau rarely allows blockers to get into his chest and he easily sets the edge. He gives tremendous effort from the back side and closes ground in a hurry. He has tremendous awareness to locate the ball and work through multiple blocks if necessary. He destroys tight ends. Rousseau has the ability to generate immediate knockback to reset the line of scrimmage.
Where he needs to improve: There are some occasions where he's too narrow and stalls on his bull rush. He's fine if he lowers his pads, but he will struggle if he's too upright. Rousseau has the frame to add more weight and I believe doing so will help him become even more dominant against both the pass and running game. The only other negative is the fact that he's only had one year of production after suffering an ankle injury his first year at Miami. If he can stay healthy, I believe he'll post another spectacular season and that concern will be eliminated.
Biggest takeaway: Rousseau didn't play on the defensive line until his senior year of high school. So, if you want to have some fun, look up the Hudl highlights from his junior year of high school. He played wide receiver and safety. He looks like Kevin Durant catching the ball down the field! That said, it's amazing that he's so polished as a pass rusher at this early point in his career.
He can win in so many different ways. He has an effective push-pull move, he uses a swipe-rip move and he can generate speed to power (SEE: Duke game). He's also very comfortable and effective working inside against interior offensive linemen. He rarely gets bounced around and bullied by guys that outweigh him by 50-plus pounds. I was very impressed.
He reminds me of: The player the Vikings' Danielle Hunter has become at the NFL level. Rousseau is much more polished and productive than Hunter was at LSU. However, Hunter has developed into one of the league's premier pass rushers since entering the league in 2015. Rousseau has a comparable build/frame and they are similar athletes on the field. Both players annihilate tight ends and have the ability to convert speed to power off the edge. I believe Rousseau has even more upside at the next level. He has the tools to emerge as a perennial All-Pro player.
Follow Daniel Jeremiah on Twitter @MoveTheSticks.