2021 NFL Draft: Opt out may affect Gregory Rousseau’s draft stock

2021 NFL Mock Draft prospect Gregory Rousseau #15 of the Miami Hurricanes (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
2021 NFL Mock Draft prospect Gregory Rousseau #15 of the Miami Hurricanes (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

Opting out to prepare for the draft may hurt Gregory Rousseau’s 2021 NFL Draft stock.

Big news struck the Miami Hurricanes on Thursday, as star defensive lineman Gregory Rousseau notified head coach Manny Diaz that he would indeed be opting out of the season to focus on the 2021 NFL Draft. Rousseau has also signed with Rosenhaus Sports.

After a redshirting in 2018, Rousseau put up very good numbers in the 2019 season for the Hurricanes. He finished the season with 15.5 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss, both of which led the ACC.

As the summer rolled around and analysts got a hold of film, opinions flew out, and there was a wide range of them. Many analysts and sites currently have Rousseau as a top 10 prospect in the class, while others have him as a fringe first-rounder and just inside the top 25 or 30.

Why is that? Well, when diving into the film, the first thing that shows up with Rousseau is his length and athleticism. He has a good first step and can use his athleticism to win on the edge along with good length and hand usage to keep linemen off-balance.

However, there were some questions. Right now, Rousseau is more athlete than pass rusher as a prospect. The majority of his production came from rushing on the interior, where his athleticism and quickness were too much for interior offensive linemen. His technique right now is a concern, as it’s important for edge rushers to have a plan of attack and be able to react with counters after getting stood up at first contact.

Another season to work on his game would’ve been nice for Rousseau and his draft stock. Yes, his numbers at the combine will likely be impressive, and NFL teams will take a chance on Rousseau’s athleticism and believe they can develop him into a starter.

The problem with the opt-out is it’s now more of a projection than everyone expected. Rousseau is still the top edge rusher in the class to most, but now his absence in college football opens the door for others to grow throughout the season. The gap could close between now and the 2021 NFL Draft.

So, after all of this, will his 2021 NFL Draft stock slide as a result of the opt-out? It’s hard to say. In this writer’s opinion, it would tough at this juncture to spend a top 15-20 pick on Rousseau when the film is inconsistent and the production in context isn’t what you want to see out of a pass rusher. If he played, there’s a chance he could’ve secured himself a spot in the top 10.

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Obviously, his health and safety is the most important thing rather than where he ends up in April, but it’s also important to analyze what this does for Rousseau’s stock. There are teams who could use help on the edge (the Giants, Detroit, and Atlanta come to mind), but purely taking a chance on athleticism early in the draft seems unlikely. Rousseau should find himself in the first round, but his stock will take a hit.