In what can only be described as a labor of love, the Locked On Podcast Netwrok teamed up with Audacy to bring you the Ultimate Mock Draft 2021. The premise is simple - all the Locked On hosts represent the team they cover. Trades are not only allowed, but encouraged and the people that cover these teams five days a week on the network choose who they think is the next player to send their team over the top.
Throughout the mock, we hear analysis and breakdowns from people such as Hall of Famer Michael Irvin, Brian Baldinger, Ross Tucker, Jason La Canfora, and many more.
The draft kicked off with no surprises, seeing Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Justin Fields, Kyle Pitts, and Ja’Marr Chase go chalk to the first five teams. We didn’t see defense go until pick number nine - and that one came as a bit of a surprise with the Denver Broncos going cornerback but not choosing Patrick Surtain.
As the first round neared its close, the Buccaneers were on the clock with the Locked On Bucs Podcast - hosted by David Harrison and myself - and we had seen a few potential targets taken already. Names like Najee Harris and Jaelan Phillips didn’t fall to us while Javonte Williams was there and in consideration, but having just signed Giovanni Bernard we didn’t feel the upside was there with Williams like it would have been with Harris, so running back was out. We also looked at wide receiver Kadarius Toney considering his playmaking abilities and that Antonio Brown is still nowhere to be found.
Christian Barmore was there as was Gregory Rousseau and Jayson Oweh. In the end, we selected University of Miami edge rusher Gregory Rousseau to be the guy at pick 32, adding him to a pass rush rotation with Shaquil Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul.
Rousseau has already gained comparisons to JPP and with the right system and staff to bring him along, he could be a Pro Bowl caliber player. Rousseau opted out of the 2020 season, but you go back to that 2019 tape and the athleticism is there in spades.
Rousseau is 6’7”, 265-lbs and had an impressive pro day. He clocked a 4.68 40-yard time while posting 21 bench reps (225-lb), a 30-inch vertical, and a 9’7” broad jump. While not as impressive as his teammate Jaelan Phillips in the 40, Rousseau looked like a guy that hadn’t missed a year of football.
During his 2019 campaign with the Hurricanes, Rousseau finished with 54 tackles, 19.5 tackles for loss, 15.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, one pass defensed, and one fumble recovery in just thirteen games. What’s even more wild is that he did all that as a rotational player - which is exactly what he’d be in Tampa.
Lance Zierlein of NFL.com points out that Rousseau is really good at escaping blocks and re-establishing his positioning and that he posseses a strong closing burst when coming up on the quarterback. Some of his shortcomings, outside of just having one season of work, is that he needs to work on his “speed to power conversion” and that he had a lot of his production when lining up inside rather than as a pure edge rusher.
Rousseau was graded by Zierlein at a 6.30, translating to “will become a starter within the first two years” which is exactly what the Bucs would be looking for. Even if he found a lot of his production lining up inside, that’s something that Todd Bowles could certainly draw up in passing situations in order to have Barrett, JPP, and Rousseau all on the field at the same time.
Brian Baldinger reacted to our pick of Rousseau saying, “He shows a lot of promise and upside. I saw him line up inside, over the guard, and outside. He makes a lot of plays on hustle and chasing. He needs a ton of refinement, but he’s got tools. If someone wants to really spend time and develop Rousseau, you could get a really good player in a year or two. He might be a really great pick for Tampa to look at if he’s available at 32. They brought back Shaq Barrett, they got Jason Pierre-Paul who harrassed Patrick Mahomes in Super Bowl LV - but Jason Pierre-Paul is not going to play forever. It would be great if they could start preparing the next guy. I think he needs a lot of work, he needs a lot of practice time. Going up against Donovan Smith and Tristan Wirfs in practice would be really good. It would be great to be around Shaq Barrett - who has a cross chop, has a variety of moves - or Jason Pierre-Paul, who is also long and lanky, and can teach hiim how to use his arms and his length and his strength to get to the quarterback. It would be a great way to learn and grow and maybe take over one day.”
This is what has been talked about on numberous occasions with the Buccaneers in this draft. Rousseau is the kind of player that can help at times now, but needs some help in developing his skills before becoming a starter. The Bucs can afford to do that on a player that has the upside that Rousseau does, especially with the coaching staff they have in place now.
Check out all the picks and the other reactions to the selection of Gregory Rousseau to Tampa on the Ultimate Mock Draft 2021 by clicking here or in the player below.
*Note - Embedded is episode six of six, which begins with pick 29. I do highly recommend you go back and check out the entire mock draft with analysis from Brian Baldinger, Michael Irvin, Ross Tucker, Jason La Canfora, and many more*