Draft Outlook for Gregory Rousseau, Other Prospects Who Have Opted Out of 2020
It is expected that Miami defensive end Gregory Rousseau will opt out of the 2020 college football season. Miami Head Coach Manny Diaz first announced the news at a press conference on Thursday. While he has not spoke on this, it is assumed that Rousseau will be entering the 2021 NFL Draft, as he is a projected top 15 selection. Rousseau’s decision comes a day after Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons announced that he will not be playing in 2020 due to coronavirus concerns. Parsons is considered the number one linebacker in the 2021 draft class and a top 10 pick. Two other top prospects have also opted out of the 2020 season in light of health concerns and to prepare for the draft; Minnesota wide receiver Rashod Bateman and Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley. More players are expected to opt out in the coming weeks.
With the news that Rousseau and other top prospects won’t play in 2020, we have likely seen from them all that we will see before the 2021 NFL Draft. Rousseau, Parsons, Bateman, and Farley have all been dominant in their college careers. Even though they will be taking a year off, they should not fall down draft boards. With that being said, each player’s draft outlook is a bit different, as they are all skilled in different ways.
Gregory Rousseau, EDGE Miami
Gregory Rousseau only played one complete season in college, but he dominated in that season. As a redshirt freshman, Rousseau logged an incredible 15.5 sacks and 19.5 tackles for losses. He measures in at 6’5″ 260 pounds, which is almost perfect for the edge position. Although he is new to the position and a bit raw, his knowledge of the position and Miami’s defensive scheme is that of a seasoned pro. Rousseau’s footwork is great and his explosiveness off the line will carry him to great production at the next level.
Rousseau is the consensus number one ranked edge rusher in the 2021 edge rusher class. Before opting out, he was a projected top 10 or 15 pick in most mock drafts. With his unbelievable 2019 season, there is not much left that Rousseau needs to prove. He can further polish his mechanics, but he can do that with trainers outside of Miami’s program. This decision should not harm his draft status, as it will be hard for another player at the position to get to Rousseau’s level of production. In a relatively weak edge class, Rousseau solidified himself as the likely number one option, so he should not be drafted any lower. Very few defensive players should be drafted above him, so expect Rousseau to be taken anywhere from picks 7-20 next April.
Micah Parsons, LB Penn State
Like Rousseau, Micah Parsons is the consensus number one at his position. If you have any concerns about that, I would advise you to watch some highlights of last season’s Cotton Bowl where Parsons single-handedly destroyed Memphis. Parsons is the perfect modern-day linebacker. He is the ideal size for the position at 6’3″ 245 pounds. He can cover sideline to sideline and might run a sub- 4.5 40 time. Parsons is a fundamentally-sound tackler and has an arsenal of pass rushing moves to hit the quarterback. He’s great at reading opposing offenses, so he is always the first man to the ball.
Parsons is my number one linebacker and a top 5 player on my overall board. Similar to Rousseau, he has nothing left to prove to scouts and fans alike. He dominated Big-10 competition as a true freshman and sophomore. All NFL teams could use a three down linebacker who can stop the run, blitz, and drop back into coverage. Parsons should be drafted in a similar range that former LSU linebacker Devin White was in 2019. Don’t expect Parsons to fall to your favorite team, because he will be off the board by the 10th pick in 2021.
Rashod Bateman, WR Minnesota
Bateman has been a key contributor to the recent surge of Minnesota’s football program. In 2019, he hauled in 60 receptions for 1,219 yards and 11 touchdowns. He was paired with fifth round pick Tyler Johnson, but always looked like the better receiver. Bateman is one of college football’s best X-receivers, as he combines size with ball skills. He is 6’2″ but is much more than a red zone threat. Bateman stretches the whole field and can make plays in the middle or along the sideline. He’s got excellent hands and the concentration to bring down a jump ball.
While there is discrepancy at the top, it is generally assumed that Bateman is a top 5 wide receiver prospect. Bateman’s stock should be safe because he is different than the other top prospects. As stated before, he brings a blend of size and athleticism that all NFL teams look for. Many receivers in this class are on the 6’0″ or smaller side. However, the top guys in the NFL are all 6’2″ or taller, which benefits Bateman. He’s a top 3 receiver on my board and will not fall past the first 40 picks. I am still expecting Bateman to go in the first round, but he may be an early second round selection like Tee Higgins and Michael Pittman Jr were in the 2020 draft.
Caleb Farley, CB Virginia Tech
Farley was the first major prospect to announce that he would be opting out of the 2020 college football season. Before that, he was coming off a dominant 2019 season where he held opposing quarterbacks to a 29.2 passer rating when targeted. Farley also logged 4 interceptions and one pick-six. He was the best cornerback in the ACC last season, even above AJ Terrell, who was drafted 16th to the Atlanta Falcons.
Caleb Farley is ranked as a top three cornerback prospect in the 2021 NFL Draft. His draft outlook is more complex than the other three prospects because there are some very good cornerbacks in this draft class who can surpass him on big boards depending on how their seasons go. Farley is a projected first round pick right now, but can drop out of that range due to recency bias from teams. He is not like Rousseau or Parsons, as he is not the clearcut number one at his position. With that being said, there are only a few cornerbacks who can surpass Farley, so I would find it hard to believe if he is not drafted within the first 50 picks. Like the other three, Farley is a dominant prospect and his draft status should not change much from now until the 2021 NFL Draft.