The 2021 NFL Draft is an interesting one for pass rushers. While there are players reckoned to be at the top of the draft board for pass rushers, there isn’t a single dominant player setting the pace for the field. Instead there is a whole pack of EDGE players with their own strengths and weaknesses, each trying to set himself apart from the others.
Miami’s Quincy Roche — who transferred to Miami from Temple for the 2020 season — distinguished himself during the week of Senior Bowl practices. Over those days he was a consistent presence in the backfield on both one-on-one drills and in team periods. At points during the week, Roche was seemingly everywhere, blowing up both running and passing plays.
The New York Giants were able to generate pressure on opposing passers in 2020, but the state of their pass rush isn’t as simple as their sack totals.
The Giants’ pass rush was largely a function of their pass coverage — they were able to pressure and sack quarterbacks when they held the ball, or Patrick Graham was able to scheme a free rusher. But the Giants also struggled to get off the field when their coverage wasn’t holding up for 5 seconds.
The Giants might not be able to find a pass rusher at the top of the draft, but could they target Roche later on?
Games Played: 45
Tackles For a loss: 54.0
Forced Fumbles: 8
Passes Defensed: 7
Games Played: 10
Tackles For a loss: 14.5
Forced Fumbles: 2
Passes Defensed: 1
Best: Competitive toughness, technique, versatility
Worst: Lacks elite athleticism and measurables
Projection: A starting EDGE in a multiple defense, or an important rotational pass rusher in a more traditional front.
Miami’s Quincy Roche is an experienced, athletic, and versatile edge defender who could fit in a variety of schemes at the NFL level.
Roche aligns as both a defensive end — playing from a three-point stance — as well as a rush linebacker from a two-point stance. He also plays from both the left and right side of the defensive front and appears comfortable in all alignments.
Roche times his rushes well, anticipating the snap of the ball to maximize his first step, as well as showing good judgement when shooting gaps as a run defender. He has good lower body flexibility, with a tight, compact stance as a down lineman and showing good fluidity and bend around the edge as a pass rusher. Roche is a solid technician as a pass rusher, using his hands well to keep himself clean and blockers from being able to lock in their blocks. He typically mixes long-arm, club-rip, and arm-over moves, and is able to uncoil his hips and convert speed to power as well.
Roche’ plays with a wide base when he is forced to take on blockers in run defense, and doesn’t give up ground easily. His hand usage is good enough that he can usually disengage to make a play on the ball carrier as well. Roche also shows very good football IQ to track the ball in the backfield and when to break off his rushes to defend against screen or option plays, or to get his hands in passing lanes.
Roche has a relatively limited athletic ceiling. His measurables are only modest compared to those with elite size and athleticism for the position. His lack of size and good — but not great — athleticism can show up when playing against bigger linemen or against higher levels of competition. While Roche is still effective, he can be stalemated by those players or less able to consistently (or quickly) influence the play.
Overall Grade: 7.8 - Roche has a high floor and a relatively high ceiling due to his polish and competitive toughness. He should develop into a dependable starter.
Quincy Roche projects as a starting EDGE player in a multiple defense.
Roche is a true modern “EDGE,” with the ability to line up as both a down lineman or a rush linebacker and play equally well out of both alignments. A few years ago he would have been called a “tweener” and asked to either bulk up or slim down to fit into the classic archetype of a 4-3 or 3-4 defense.
But as defenses have evolved to mix and match principles from different fronts and philosophies, positional archetypes have become more fluid, allowing for a broader range of players to thrive. Roche has the versatility to play from a variety of alignments, from a 7-technique defensive end to a stand-up rusher in an amoeba defense.
He plays with good technique, using his hands to keep himself clean and set up counter moves to defeat blockers. He also has enough power to match up with NFL-caliber linemen in run defense, though he will probably be more useful in pursuit than standing up blockers on the play side.
Roche only spent one season at Miami and saw a significant drop in production. However, we shouldn’t discount his time at Temple, as he was one of the rare players chosen to wear a single-digit jersey. Those numbers are reserved for the team’s toughest players and are voted on by teammates. That competitive toughness shines through Roche’s game as he is relentless in pursuit and willing to battle through the echo of the whistle.
Roche doesn’t have the elite measurables and athleticism shared by the NFL’s great pass rushers, but he should be a good, consistent edge defender from the start of his career.