According to ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. (subscription), the Indianapolis Colts are projected to select Miami (Fla.) pass rusher Gregory Rousseau with the 21st overall pick in his most recent 2021 NFL Mock Draft:
21. Indianapolis Colts
Gregory Rousseau, DE, Miami
The Colts would probably love to get a tackle to replace the retired Anthony Costanzo, but I don’t see a great fit based on my rankings. (They could solve the issue by kicking All-Pro guard Quenton Nelson outside.) Instead they can address their pass rush and get younger with Justin Houston likely leaving in free agency. Rousseau, who opted out of the 2020 season, had 15.5 sacks in 2019, though he’s still raw. I’m interested in seeing his testing numbers at his pro day next month. Indianapolis should have a few options to take its preferred edge rusher here because the class lacks elite prospects.
“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.”
Here’s NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah’s scouting report on Rousseau, who he ranks as the NFL draft’s 13th best prospect overall—meaning he could be a steal for the Colts back at #21 (should he fall):
13. Gregory Rousseau
Miami · Edge rusher · Sophomore (RS)
Rousseau is a tall, long and rangy defender. He aligned all over the front in Miami’s scheme and was extremely productive in 2019 despite having limited experience on the defensive line (he played safety and wide receiver in high school). He lacks an elite get-off as a pass rusher, but his combination of quick hands, length and instincts leads to sacks and pressures in bunches. He has an effective swipe/rip move and he can close/finish. He didn’t show much power early in the ‘19 season, but he got better every week. By the end of the season, he flashed the ability to convert speed to power (see: Duke game). He is very comfortable and effective rushing inside. In the run game, he uses his length to set the edge, but he does get too high at times. His effort is excellent. Overall, Rousseau is still developing, but he has found a way to post elite production while learning on the job. His best football is ahead of him.
ESPN’s Todd McShay has him just a few spots lower—as the 16th best prospect overall:
16. Gregory Rousseau, DE, Miami (Fla.)*
HT: 6-7 | WT: 253
Grade: 90 | Previous rank: 16
Rousseau is tall, long and quick off the edge. He has power to overwhelm blockers and works back inside once he is even with the quarterback. He opted out of the 2020 season, but he had 15.5 sacks in 2019 for the Hurricanes — which ranked him No. 2 in the country behind Chase Young — and he totaled 19.5 tackles for loss (tied for seventh). As a run-defender, Rousseau can set the edge and make plays. He has future Pro Bowl talent.
Here’s some of the other draft ‘buzz’ on Rousseau:
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
Miami edge rusher Greg Rousseau is LEGIT!— 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
Carlos Dunlap is what you're hoping Gregory Rousseau can turn into and possibly exceed at the next level. Similar body type, length, and ways that they win off of the edge.— Jordan Reid (@Jordan_Reid) November 20, 2020
Was trying to watch #Packers 7th round pick Spider Garvin... but DE Gregory Rousseau keeps stealing my attention! And they move that 6’6 long frame all around the DL on 3rd down - here lined up at 0/NT on 3rd & 8— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) April 26, 2020
Add in Quincy Roche in 2020 - wow! pic.twitter.com/z5Qwsckp6a
#Canes DL Gregory Rousseau with the speed swipe.@Greg_R5 attacks the hands of the lunging blocker & swipes them. Ends up with one of his 15.5 sacks. If you beat the hands, you beat the man! #PassRush— DLineVids (@dlinevids1) March 30, 2020
Rousseau earned All-American honors as a freshman last season for #TheU pic.twitter.com/LsizBH5xj3
First time watching Gregory Rousseau (EDGE from Miami FL) and this dude has some serious length. Listed at 6'7" and 253 pounds and is showing the versatility to rush as the nose tackle. Quickly swipes the hands of the RG away. pic.twitter.com/RQcCVCpWpQ— Russell Brown (@RussNFLDraft) July 23, 2020
#Patriots draft target: Miami EDGE Gregory Rousseau. Tough one. Not overly explosive or refined. But huge production in 2019 (15.5 sacks, 19.5 TFLs). Long-limbed, fluid, versatile, room to grow.— Evan Lazar (@ezlazar) February 10, 2021
Nice cross-chop in the first clip. But Rousseau was at his best pass rushing inside. pic.twitter.com/oLEeXuhcJE
It’s no secret that the Colts have both immediate and long-term needs at starting defensive end, as last year’s veteran starters Justin Houston (32) and Denico Autry (30) are both free agents—as is rotational backup Al-Quadin Muhammad.
Despite making a second-half return, 3rd-year pass rusher Kemoko Turay didn’t show that he was fully recovered from a season-ending ankle injury he suffered in 2019—as he was pretty well a non-factor down the stretch. He did show flashes before the injury though.
The Colts will also need to see a significant leap from 2019 2nd round pick Ben Banogu, who was consistently a healthy scratch for Indianapolis during a late season span.
Indianapolis’ pass rush as a whole could use an infusion of youth and dynamic talent:
“The Colts ranked 12th (tied) in most sacks with 40.0 sacks this past season. Per ESPN analytics, Indianapolis had the 15th highest pass rush win rate at 42%.”
Rousseau seems like a long, athletic top pass rushing prospect with speed off the edge that the Colts typically covet as far as collecting toolsy, physically gifted defenders. It doesn’t hurt that he’s been highly productive when he’s played for the Hurricanes too.
Given his youthful pass rushing prowess, Rousseau’s a definite name to watch for Indy, as Colts’ fans quickly approach late April’s NFL Draft.