He has the production, and he has the Power Five affiliation. So why isn’t Miami edge rusher Quincy Roche getting more buzz on the 2021 NFL Draft circuit? Roche has an intriguing yet polarizing skill set, which is part of why projections on him are so ambiguous. It’s time to dive into the tape to get a clearer picture. What does Roche bring to the table, and how does he profile as a 2021 NFL Draft prospect?
Quincy Roche 2021 NFL Draft Profile
Weight: 245 pounds
Position: Edge Rusher
Current Year: Redshirt Senior
The 2021 NFL Draft edge rusher class is a fascinating case study. The class came into the 2020 season without a clear-cut No. 1 player. Now, weeks after the regular season’s conclusion, there’s still that same ambiguity. Who is the EDGE1 of the 2020 class? Ask that question to ten different people, and you might get at least seven or eight different answers.
That question begs another — who is to be included in the discussion? There can only be one top edge rusher, but there are a lot of intriguing prospects regardless, and Miami edge rusher Quincy Roche is one of them. Of course, it’s taken Roche a long time to get where he is now. It all started in Pennsylvania, where Roche was a three-star signee for the Temple Owls.
Quincy Roche’s journey to becoming a Miami edge rusher
Having broken his high school’s sack record with 19.0 in a season, Roche brought some tangible pass rushing upside to the college football stage. And it wouldn’t take long for his talent to take root.
Roche redshirted his first season in 2016, then came back looking for an increased role in 2017. With standout defender Haason Reddick leaving in the 2017 NFL Draft, Roche was in line for an uptick in snaps. He got it, as expected, and he utilized it to his advantage.
In his redshirt freshman campaign, Roche immediately made an impact, logging 11.5 tackles for loss and 7.0 sacks, as well as three forced fumbles. He put himself on the NFL Draft radar early, but he wasn’t done there. In 2018, he added 6.0 more sacks and 9.0 more tackles for loss to that total, and in 2019, he had a career-defining year.
Roche’s redshirt junior season saw him amass 13.0 sacks and 19.0 tackles for loss. In the process, he earned a single-digit number — a select honor awarded to Temple’s toughest players — and he also earned All-AAC first-team recognition. Overall, Roche earned 26 sacks and 39.5 tackles for loss as a member of the Owls. Consequently, he cemented a lasting legacy with his original school.
Roche’s lone season with the Miami Hurricanes
Roche could have declared for the 2020 NFL Draft with his production. However, Roche wanted to prove that he could compete against better competition. Thus, he stayed in school and soon transferred from Temple, choosing the Miami Hurricanes as his destination.
In his redshirt senior year, the Miami edge rusher accumulated 4.5 sacks, 14.5 tackles for loss, and two forced fumbles in ten games. He wasn’t as consistent or as dominant against ACC competition. However, he still found a way to stay close to the backfield. He also did enough to earn third-team All-ACC honors alongside Wake Forest edge rusher Carlos Basham.
Analyzing Quincy Roche’s 2021 NFL Draft profile
Roche’s build is the first thing that stands out when watching his tape. The Miami edge rusher is around 6-foot-3, 245 pounds, but his proportions are unique. He’s a long-legged, relatively short-armed edge defender who plays with a strong base but doesn’t have a lot of ingrained leverage with his wingspan. Luckily, he compensates for his middling length somewhat by using impressive hand usage and placement.
Roche clearly approaches most rushes with a plan, and he has the ability to combine different pass rushing moves on a given rep. His hands are fast and fairly powerful, and although he’s lacking in dominant length, he can extend and transfer energy that way as well. Roche also supplements his hand usage with various athletic boons, most notably his explosiveness and ankle flexion.
Roche has excellent initial explosiveness, and while he isn’t often able to carry that speed through the rep, his initial burst can earn him leverage upfield. Additionally, Roche also has good ankle flexion. This is related to, but not synonymous with, bend. I wouldn’t say Roche is super bendy. His upper body is predominantly stiff, and that impacts his ability to reduce his surface area. But he does have the ability to get low to the ground with impressive ankle flexion. Thus, he has some ability to bend around the corner and infiltrate the pocket.
What are the concerns with Quincy Roche?
To me, Roche profiles as a high-floor player who can win with smarts, hand usage, and solid foundational athletic traits. However, there are some inconsistencies in his game. While he does have good juice off the line, I wouldn’t say his explosiveness is elite. It’s certainly good, but there are times when he gets off the line slower than usual, and his thinner upper body can be handled easily as a result.
Additionally, Roche’s stiffness and lack of pursuit speed are a bit worrisome. As mentioned earlier, while Roche has enough burst to be impactful, he doesn’t always carry that through the rep. He’s a good hustler in space, but he’s somewhat stiff as a mover. He has the urgency to change directions and chase with some utility, but there are some athletic limitations to take note of when the play opens up.
Roche’s length also comes to mind here. It’s not like he has T-Rex arms, but offensive tackles tend to be lengthy players, and Roche might not have the wingspan to get clearance against them consistently. Especially against NFL tackles who will be able to match his first step more often, he’ll have to be methodical and precise with his hands if he wants to produce consistently.
The verdict on NFL Draft prospect Quincy Roche
Roche has good explosiveness, rushing IQ, competitive toughness, and a decent motor. However, he doesn’t move with as much athletic freedom as a 6-foot-3 edge defender should, and his middling length may limit him at the NFL level. To me, he’s a late Day 2, Day 3 selection. He has enough utility in both phases to be a potential starter in the NFL, but his upside is capped in a few crucial areas.
Others may weigh Roche’s strengths more heavily, and that’s reasonable. However, I don’t see any dominant traits, and he might not project to the NFL as well as other prospects. He certainly doesn’t have as much upside as teammate Jaelan Phillips, and he didn’t produce as much this year, either.
Quincy Roche’s best fits in the 2021 NFL Draft
Roche is an especially interesting evaluation when taking into account his potential fits. His size mirrors that of a 3-4 outside linebacker, but I don’t trust him a ton lining up in coverage or taking on a more versatile role. If Roche can add more weight and density to his upper body, he can be an ideal player in a 4-3 scheme, where he’ll be able to use his most effective downhill traits.
Given the emphasis on pass rushers in the NFL today, NFL teams may appreciate Roche’s ability to get into the backfield. If he can get over 250 and maybe to 255 pounds at least, Roche is an ideal fit for teams like the Raiders, Jets, Lions, and Bills. However, if he stays at 3-4 OLB, he could also be a good fit for the Giants, Cardinals, Rams, and Falcons.
Teams will have to decide for themselves what they see in Roche. He has a few of the important traits. However, he also lacks in other areas. Roche will have the opportunity to improve his stock at the Senior Bowl. He’ll also have a chance to boost his perception with his athletic testing at the NFL Combine. If Roche can take advantage of those opportunities, then he can lock up Day 2 status and earn a chance to start early.