(Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)
While the main attraction from the Steelers 2021 draft class is star Alabama running back Najee Harris, one player that has generated quite a buzz is 6th round EDGE defender Quincy Roche.
Roche, who spent his first three college seasons at Temple University before transferring to the University of Miami for his senior year, will wear #48 with the Steelers- and hopes to live up to the production of the last Steeler to wear that number, Bud Dupree.
The main reason for Roche's fall to the 6th round was his size. Roche is listed at 6'3" 245 lbs, which is very similar to Alex Highsmith's 6'4" 242 lb build.
In an article for CBS Sports, Chris Trapasso wrote, "Pittsburgh got him on the bargain rack in the sixth round. He likely fell because of his smaller stature on a subpar workout at the Miami pro day, but the former Temple and Miami star has a developed arsenal of pass-rushing moves and plays much bendier around the corner than his measured athleticism would indicate."
Overall, Roche is similar as a prospect to Highsmith as undersized pass rushers with good hang usage. He displays impactful lateral movement and has a solid feel for the game on tape.
Currently, scouts are concerned about how Roche's size will influence his ability to shed blocks in the NFL. While Roche is technically sound, he does not jump off the screen as an athlete. He will need to continue developing his repertoire to succeed at the next level.
Here's a great example of Roche's hand usage. He's #2 rushing the quarterback and shows off some impressive bend around the corner and uses his hands to create leverage on the offensive tackle.
As you can see, Roche is lined up in a two point stance, just as he will be as a 3-4 outside linebacker with the Steelers.
Against the run, Roche has a knack for locating the football and fighting through contact to make the play. This was a really impressive rep against Louisville. Roche recognizes run early and uses his hands to generate leverage on the blocker. He sets the edge which funnels the runner to the hole, where he sheds to block and finishes. Some excellent technique and effort on this play.
This play is a great view of Roche's handwork. He has heavy hands on impact while keeping an athletic base and playing from the ground up.
As far as playing time, Roche could earn himself the same role as Highsmith did last season prior to Bud Dupree's season-ending injury. And as we saw, it's critical to have at least 3 dependable EDGE rushers, even if Highsmith continues to take strides forward.
Highsmith played roughly 20% of defensive snaps before becoming a starter, filling in for Dupree or T.J. Watt in certain situations. If the Steelers are able to get meaningful production from Roche in 2021-2022, it would certainly signal a hit on the 6th pick.