This spring I’ll be writing about 2021 NFL Draft Prospects the Bucs could be interested in, banging out brief scouting assessments of their skill set and how they would project to Tampa Bay’s scheme. I’ll try to post at least one of these every weekend, so we’ve got a good database built up by the NFL Draft.
EDGE Quincy Roche
Jersey Number: #2 College: Miami Height: 6-2 Weight: 243 Age: Turned 23 in February 2021 Production: 30.5 sacks, 26 at Temple, 4.5 at Miami in 2020 Games Watched: FSU, Clemson, VA Tech, NC State
Roche began his college career at Temple, where he dominated the AAC to the tune of 26 sacks in his first three seasons. A heralded transfer to Miami after a 13-sack campaign in 2019 with the Owls definitely attracted the attention of NFL Draft analysts before the season, many of whom thought Roche could turn a strong 2020 into a first round selection.
But although Roche played well, he wasn’t quite the difference maker many envisioned. Instead fellow transfer Jaelan Phillips stole the show, establishing himself as a premier prospect in the class during the 2020 season. Roche was solid, but posted just 4.5 sacks and was handled pretty easily in a high-profile matchup with Virginia Tech left tackle Christian Darrisaw.
Average size, average athleticism, average burst, average power. Roche doesn’t look like much by way of trait evaluation, but a couple times every game he found a way to notch an impressive win off the edge. He has a great feel for cornering and contorting his body at the right time to slip by OT’s after drawing their hands out and getting them off balance.
But for such a detailed and aware player, Roche can be shockingly uncreative too. There isn’t much sophistication to his rushes, nor does he offer much in the way of converting speed to power. It’s rare that a player with his limitations primarily wins as a cornering threat in college football, but that’s what Roche does. The question then becomes, is he athletic enough for his style of play to work in the NFL?
Edge pass rushers win in three different ways: by going outside of the opposing tackle, through the opposing tackle or inside of the opposing tackle. Simple, right? The tricky part is that being able to win through an OT and inside an OT are almost always predicated on at least being able to threaten winning outside the OT. Roche threatens outside on tape, but only in flashes, and his lack of explosiveness makes me wonder how much of a threat he’ll be in the NFL, especially if he can’t beat the tackle with inside counters or power.
I was reminded of a player Bucs’ fans will be familiar with when I watched Roche’s tape: former Bucs second round pick Noah Spence. Both players were college edge rushers who were very productive against lesser competition, but less so when they reached the Power 5 level. Both players relied on cornering and beating tackles around their outside edge to win, but neither offered the typical explosiveness or elite flexibility to do so consistently against better tackles in the NFL. Because of that, neither were a strong threat to establish an elite inside counter game, and neither possessed the power to bully opponents either. In the end, they were both too one-dimensional to be consistent difference-makers in the NFL, especially when that dimension wasn’t elite to begin with.
One-dimensional with a limited dimension is concerning, but I do think Roche’s run defense improved this season and he has the instincts that are often underrated at the position. I think Noah Spence, if it weren’t for his injuries, could have carved out a decent NFL career as a backup. In today’s NFL, there is definitely a strong need for well-rounded, crafty No. 3 edge rushers who can take advantage of lower-tier matchups and make an impact. Maybe a career as a third edge is in store for Roche, but his testing will be important, and his value probably doesn’t hit until somewhere in the middle portions of the draft (late rd 3-rd 4). I like the player on tape, but he’ll need to crush testing to raise my opinion of what his ceiling can be at the next level.
Jon Ledyard is PewterReport.com's newest Bucs beat writer and has experience covering the Pittsburgh Steelers as a beat writer and analyzing the NFL Draft for several draft websites, including The Draft Network. Follow Ledyard on Twitter at @LedyardNFLDraft