According to Pro Football Focus, the Indianapolis Colts will select Miami (Fla.) edge Gregory Rousseau with the 21st overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft in the advanced grade web site’s early mock draft:
21. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS: EDGE GREGORY ROUSSEAU, MIAMI (FL)
Rousseau is one of the biggest unknowns in the class, but his physical tools give him the chance to pay big dividends. Size, length, athleticism, bend, versatility are all boxes the 6-foot-6, 260-pound defensive linemen checks, but consistency and production are not. Yes, he notched 16 sacks in 2019, but that’s a bit noisy. Over half of those sacks were charted as either unblocked or as a cleanup sack, and Rousseau ranked outside the top 50 in the FBS in pass-rush grade and win rate.
He’s going to be a bit of a project, but the flashes of high-end reps and the tools are too hard to ignore.
The 6’7”, 265 pound pass rusher opted out of playing for the 2020 season amid COVID-19 concerns.
However, Rosseau’s just a year removed from a stat-stuffing 15.5 sack with the Hurricanes during 2019, as he also recorded 54 tackles (34 solo), 19.5 tackles for loss, 2 forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, and a pass defensed during 13 games (7 starts) that season. The redshirt freshman earned All-ACC First-Team, ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year, All-America Second-Team (FWAA), and Freshman All-America for his spectacular 2019 season.
Of course, the Colts could use a long-term answer at pass rusher. Justin Houston is 31 years old, and the veteran is set to become a free agent this offseason. Meanwhile, 3rd-year pass rusher Kemoko Turay has been limited with injuries and while he’s definitely shown flashes, he hasn’t consistently put it all together yet. Lastly, Colts 2019 2nd round pick Ben Banogu was consistently declared inactive during game days as a healthy scratch during the second half of the season.
The Colts defense was tied for 12th on the season with 40.0 total sacks. ESPN Analytics ranked them 15th overall during 2020 in pass rush win rate at 42%. All-Pro defensive tackle DeForest Buckner led the team with 9.5 sacks, while Houston added 8.0 sacks of his own.
Per NFL.com (from August of 2020):
NFL.com draft analyst and former scout Daniel Jeremiah recently watched three of Rousseau’s 2019 game tapes and compared him to Minnesota Vikings Pro Bowl pass rusher Danielle Hunter. Jeremiah also considers Rousseau the best 2021 draft prospect he’s studied so far.
Here’s what else they’re saying:
Miami edge rusher Gregory Rousseau is so much fun to watch. Long, lean frame and he’s only getting bigger and stronger. Incredible use of first step to stun pass blockers. Has some Brian Burns + to his game.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) May 11, 2020
Gregory Rousseau's FSU tape is nsfw, IOL had no answer for him.pic.twitter.com/b0Pb3GHoI4— Austin Gayle (@PFF_AustinGayle) July 21, 2020
Big fan of Miami edge rusher Greg Rousseau. Checks every box for the position. Here’s a little example of his speed to power. My First Look scouting report will post tomorrow on https://t.co/IioVYRzLaD. https://t.co/djvsW1ZDZO— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) June 11, 2020
After collecting 15.5 sacks and winning ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year, Miami EDGE rusher Greg Rousseau (@Greg_R5) enters 2020 as the top defensive player in the nation.— Jordan Reid (@Jordan_Reid) May 21, 2020
Enjoyed getting to know him over the past few days. We talked heightened expectations and the next step: pic.twitter.com/oH4yVuZKkE
Obviously, a lot can change between now and late April ahead of the 2021 NFL Draft, but Rousseau is definitely a top pass rushing prospect to keep an eye on for the Colts early on in the draft process.