There are plenty of directions the Baltimore Ravens can go on day one of the 2021 NFL Draft, but Miami FL. edge Gregory Rousseau would be a great fit.
Heading into 2021 there are more than a few holes on this current Baltimore Ravens roster. The team could use some more pass catchers out wide and bodies for the interior of the offensive line. More importantly, the defense needs pass-rushing help after watching Matt Judon and Yannick Ngakoue move on to new teams this offseason. A pass rush that netted a decent 39 sacks a year ago looks like a much worse-off unit, and a great secondary can only make up for a subpar rush for so long.
Baltimore didn’t go after any big-name free agents on the market at the position either, even though studs like Leonard Floyd, Justin Houston (still available), and Shaquil Barrett, among others, were looking for news teams. Instead, the team brought back two veterans in Pernell McPhee and Tyus Bowser and called it good. This should give us the suspicion that the edge-rushing group would be getting some love through the upcoming NFL Draft.
The bad news is that the 2021 NFL Draft doesn’t have one standout edge rusher. Instead, it has a plethora of developmental dudes who could all very well be available by the time the Ravens come to pick at 27th overall. The “cream of the crop” guys like Michigan’s Mwity Paye or Miami FL.’s Jaelen Phillips could easily remain available late on day one even if they are perhaps EDGE1 in this draft class.
There is one name who many will remember started the year with top-five pick buzz: Gregory Rousseau.
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Rousseau, a one-year starter for the Miami Hurricanes, opted out of the 2020 season following the COVID-19 pandemic. He did make one hell of an impression in his one season as a starter, however, notching an ACC-best 15.5 sacks and 19.5 TFLs in 13 games. Rousseau was nearly unstoppable off the edge with his blend of speed and power. It helps that he’s built like a moose at 6’7″ 253-lbs. and could stand to get even bigger if he wanted to.
So why has Rousseau slipped in the draft? Beats me, but it’s likely because he was so raw as a freshman and then took a year away from football. This may “stunt” his growth and development and make teams a lot more wary about spending a top-end pick on Rousseau to be a day one impact. The reality is Rousseau is definitely a bit of a project and will need some time, energy spent, and patience to realize his potential.
Maybe this will turn fans off to Rousseau. To be fair, the Ravens need pass-rushing help now and Rousseau likely isn’t a double-digit sack artist in year one. But Rousseau is a different kind of talent. Rousseau is the kind of talent who when teams look back at the draft they sit and ask themselves, “How the hell did we let this guy fall so far?” Rousseau is a game-changer and in the right hands, he can become one of the league’s best pass rushers. Baltimore should be very interested in that.
Food for thought here: the Ravens are intimately familiar with pass rushers built like Rousseau. Look no further than Calais Campbell. Ironically enough both played at “The U” and are freakishly huge and nimble. Campbell was also was a bit of a project coming out of Miami FL. The two are strikingly similar and Campbell could be Rousseau’s ceiling, and Campbell has been one of the league’s best edge rushers for the better part of a decade. That’s the kind of upside you bet on.
For what it’s worth… the NFL has let two Miami Hurricane defensive stars fall in the draft to the Baltimore Ravens before. Their names were Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. While I’m not even remotely comparing Gregory Rousseau to either of those two, I do believe that history has a funny way of repeating itself. Perhaps Rousseau could join those two as late-round-one Miami FL. defenders who became stars with the Baltimore Ravens. It just feels right.
There are no guarantees that Gregory Rousseau will be available for the Baltimore Ravens in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft; for all we know this could be an elaborate smokescreen. If Rousseau is there, however, Baltimore should pounce and not think twice about it. Rousseau has the potential to be a franchise cornerstone player and the Ravens can’t overthink something that special.