The New York Giants claimed rookie pass rusher Quincy Roche after the Pittsburgh Steelers waived him in late August. The former Temple Owl and Miami Hurricane, was a productive collegiate edge player who had an impressive senior season with the Hurricanes.
In his lone season with the Hurricanes, Roche had 36 pressures and six sacks. According to Pro Football Focus, while playing lesser competition at Temple in the three previous years, he amassed 139 pressures and 26 sacks.
Many speculated that Roche might be a Day 2 selection during the pre-draft process, but he fell to pick 217 in the sixth round. The primary reason for Roche’s draft tumble was his athletic testing.
The marginal athletic testing, and his lack of length, suggested that Roche may not translate well at the NFL level, despite his Reese’s Senior Bowl week being more than impressive.
Senior Bowl Director Jim Nagy told our very own Ed Valentine that he believed Roche could be a day two pick as well:
“He’s not a wow you athlete, although I will say this — during our week seeing him live, he is twitchier and a little more slippery and bendier than I thought he was”
Nagy’s analysis is spot on about Roche; he may not test all that well, but he certainly has more burst and quickness than one would imagine if they only read the testing numbers.
Roche now has five pressures in the last two games. Lorenzo Carter has been inactive with an ankle injury. The former Hurricanes’ pass rusher has made more impact plays and been more productive than Carter. Lorenzo Carter has eight pressures on 146 pass rushing reps, and Roche has six on 89 pass rushing reps.
Roche has played a total of 100 snaps through the last two games - 50 in each - and he came up with one of the biggest defensive plays of the Giants season on Sunday. Football rhetoric praises pass rushers who can win one-on-one matchups in crucial moments during a game; Roche did just that on Sunday against the Raiders. Let’s break that play down first.
Quincy Roche is #95
The #Giants found a steal in Quincy Roche.— Nick Falato (@nickfalato) November 8, 2021
✔️ double swipe Miller's arms
✔️ reduce surface area of chest
✔️ dip inside shoulder up arc
✔️ bend through contact
✔️ get hips oriented into pocket
✔️ FINISH the sack
This was a huge play in a gigantic spot for the rookie pass rusher pic.twitter.com/89VTqBRSYM
This is one of the Giants’ biggest plays this year, and it was made by a rookie Day 3 pick who Big Blue didn’t even select. Roche uses the double swipe move to keep his chest clean and maintain upfield motion towards Kolton Miller’s outside shoulder; the contact also forces Miller to extend at the hip while not allowing Miller to meet Roche up the pass-rushing arc instantaneously.
Instead, Roche dips his inside shoulder and gets his chest past the outside shoulder of Miller. He then swivels his hips inward towards the pocket, bends through the hold of Miller, rips through the inside arm, turns the corner, and finishes the sack-fumble with a hard hit on Derek Carr (4). These are the types of plays that “blue goose” pass rushers make in big spots; Roche isn’t there, but he certainly is making a name for himself.
Roche flashed impressive pass-rushing ability on Monday Night Football against the Kansas City Chiefs as well. This is a GHOST technique by Roche where he bends underneath the tackle’s punch after acting like he’s going to stab with a long-arm technique. Roche then combines speed and bend to quickly get upfield and press the tackle’s outside shoulder to turn into the pocket. The GHOST technique is a huge part of Von Miller’s game, and it’s great to see Roche have it in his arsenal of pass-rushing moves.
Here’s another nice pass-rushing adjustment against the Chiefs, albeit this one takes some time to materialize. He meets the tackle up the arc with both of his hands making contact on the tackle’s punch before transitioning to a long-arm move, but the guard helps his tackle out and doesn’t allow any inside penetration. Roche feels the contact from Trey Smith (65) and spins outside, giving the rookie pass rusher a shot at Patrick Mahomes (15), who was just stripped by Leonard Williams (99). This was an intelligent, mid-play adjustment from Roche against two blockers.
Positional versatility is a talking point for this Giants’ coaching staff, and Roche aligns as a 4i-technique with his hand in the dirt. Watch the rookie E/T stunt by Azeez Ojulari (51) and Roche. Ojulari starts upfield and gets tackle Brandon Parker (75) to expand laterally before attacking his inside shoulder, creating space to the outside.
It’s then contingent upon Roche to separate from the guard Alex Leatherwood (70), which he does after leaning inside to start his rush before looping right around Ojulari into the vacated space. Carr does a good job getting rid of the football, but Roche puts a hit on the quarterback. This is great timing and teamwork from the two rookie pass rushers.
Speed to power
Converting speed to power is a difficult aspect of football that young pass-rushers have to overcome. Some pass-rushers are pure speed - they win with finesse and quickness; others are more power - they bull-rush through offensive lineman. Roche has elements of both.
This play may not seem like much, but I like to see the second effort rush that Roche brings to Miller. Roche initiates the contact with his inside arm, but Miller is in a good position. Roche, however, naturally has low leverage, so the pass-rusher uses it to his advantage. Roche churns his feet through the contact. Miller’s hips become fully uncoiled - center of gravity high - and we still see Roche moving him backward, displaying lower-half power and bull-rushing ability.
We saw some of this against the Chiefs as well. The play ends up being a Tyreek Hill (10) touchdown, but Roche does a good job using power against Lucas Niang (67). Roche’s length is not a strength, but that low profile, long-arm move, and technique allow him to set up pass-rushing moves at a more successful rate. Just like we saw with Miller above, Roche walks Niang backward, fully uncoiling his hips and getting the tackle into a precarious situation. Luckily for the Chiefs, Smith assisted his tackle, but again we see the element of strength at play here. I won’t be shocked if Roche comes up with a power rush sack this season.
I remember studying Roche’s college tape, and the one word that kept showing up in my notes was motor. The man hustles 100 percent of the time.
A high motor gives more opportunity for edge players on the backside, as we see against the Chiefs above. Roche is the backside defender on this play occupied by Travis Kelce (87). He just simply runs around Kelce’s block and makes the tackle on the opposite side of the formation.
Roche uses a great squeeze technique; he keeps his positioning low, absorbs the contact from the play-side guard, and keeps his outside arm free to contain. This forces Josh Jacobs (28) to cut the football back to a waiting Leonard Williams. Leatherwood is tasked to kick-out Roche on this play, and Roche wasn’t having any of that noise.
Parker moves Roche a bit off his spot to start this play, but Roche quickly anchors down, gets his eyes on Jacobs, and sets to the outside, effectively containing the Raiders’ running back. Roche’s ability to regather himself and sink his hips to not allow Parker to continue to drive him off the line of scrimmage was encouraging.
Impressive coverage play
(bottom of the screen)
It isn’t common for rookie pass rushers to be this savvy in coverage. Roche had only six coverage snaps in the game, but this one caught my eye. Before the snap, Roche starts pointing at running back Kenyan Drake (23). With the reduced split of the Raiders’ wide receiver, any type of outside breaking route from Drake had the potential to put the running back at a significant advantage because Bryan Edwards (89) was setting a pick inside. Roche noticed this before the snap and ensured that he worked over the top of Edwards’ release. Roche avoided the pick and got himself back in phase with Drake. Ultimately, it didn’t matter because Leonard Williams knocked the ball down at the line of scrimmage, but this is quality processing from Roche.
The Giants may have found a steal. Roche looked solid in the limited work he received while Lorenzo Carter was healthy, but he answered the proverbial bell once he earned the lion’s share of edge snaps opposite of Ojulari. If Roche continues to apply pressure in multiple ways, he will become an invaluable player for this Giants’ defense moving forward. He’s shown pass-rushing traits, processing ability and is also solid as a run defender.
Hopefully, Roche and Ojulari can develop into a dynamic pass-rushing tandem moving forward. Throw in the potential of Elerson Smith, and the Giants could have several pass-rushing gems from the 2021 NFL Draft.