Career Recap: Despite being a redshirt freshman, Rousseau was one of the best edge defenders in college football in 2019. He collected 15.5 sacks with two forced fumbles, 19.5 tackles for a loss and 54 tackles on the year. Rousseau was second to Ohio State's Chase Young in sacks in his breakout season. In 2018 as a true freshman, Rousseau played in two games before going down with a season-ending ankle injury.
2020 Season Outlook: The 2020 slate looks very manageable for Rousseau. None of the teams on his schedule field an offensive tackle noted on NFL teams' preseason watch list for the 2021 NFL Draft cycle. He will see some quality interior offensive linemen with Michigan State and Pittsburgh however. Miami also does not play ACC juggernaut Clemson during the regular season.
Skill-Set Summary: In Jon Gruden's book "Do You Love Football?!," Gruden shared a conversation with the late Al Davis in which they discussed what the most important positions in football are. The two legends agreed that after quarterback, edge rusher was the important position on a defense, making it the second-most important position on the team. The NFL is a passing-driven game, so players who can get after the quarterback and neutralize an elite signal-caller are always in demand. Thus, Rousseau will have plenty of teams interested in drafting him next April.
Rousseau is a natural quarterback hunter who has a good skill set to go along with a nose for the signal-caller. He is an instinctive edge rusher who shows an excellent ability to read and react. Thanks to good vision and feel, Rousseau adjusts to the quarterback to chase him down as he moves in the pocket. Rousseau is a young player, and it is very impressive to see how he keeps his eyes on the quarterback while working through blocks and executing moves to shed blocks. He was a very advanced rusher in 2019, displaying intelligence beyond his years.
From a physical-talent standpoint, Rousseau has a very good skill set. He has a quick first-step and a burst to close on the quarterback. While Rousseau is not a blazing fast edge rusher like a Von Miller, he is quick, and when he works himself free, he finishes his rush with speed. Rousseau also has good size with some functional strength and length, which make it difficult for offensive linemen to sustain blocks against him. In 2019, Rousseau showed a superb ability to use his hands and feet at the same time while also keeping his eyes on the quarterback. He utilized his effective bull rush, rip move, and speed to run past blockers. Even though he is a tall defender, Rousseau is not stiff and has the agility to sink his hips to redirect. Working on adding more pass-rushing moves would help him for the 2021 NFL Draft, as a larger arensal will increase his effectiveness for taking on pro offensive linemen.
Rousseau's combination of size, agility, and functional strength allows make him a versatile defender. Last year, Miami lined him up on the edge and inside at tackle in the sub package. He was very dangerous in the pass rush going against guards, and for the NFL, he could provide that added dimension. He also looked pretty good in space, so he could have the ability to be a 3-4 outside linebacker as well.
In run defense, Rousseau is solid and is at his best when he works upfield to cause disruption in the backfield. Rousseau has the size and strength to hold his gap to stop the run. For the NFL, it would help him to get stronger, which will improve his ability to defend downhill runs coming straight at him. Rousseau has a good frame and is young, so he should be able to add strength over time.
2021 NFL Draft Expectations: Entering the 2020 season, Rousseau has the potential to be a first-round pick. He could be a high first-rounder if he has another big season in terms of terrorizing the quarterback.