The Buccaneers are in a unique position with their defense heading into 2021. Coming off of a dominant performance against a potent Chiefs offense in Super Bowl LV, the entire starting unit is coming back this fall.
With Lavonte David, Shaquil Barrett and Ndamukong Suh all re-signing in March, Tampa Bay can approach the 2021 NFL Draft with depth in mind. They are particularly thin when it comes to edge rushers and it’s not hard to see why, as the team hasn’t focused much of its drafting on the position in recent years.
So, will next month’s draft bring a new edge defender to Todd Bowles’ defense? As our prospect profile series continues today, we’re taking a look at Miami’s Quincy Roche, a potential Bucs target late on day two or early on day three.
QUINCY ROCHE’S COLLEGIATE CAREER
Roche wasn’t highly recruited out of New Town High School in Maryland. According to his 247 Sports recruiting profile, he was rated as a three-star prospect and received offers from only Temple, Appalachian State, Toledo, Monmouth and Furman. He chose to go to Temple, and he blossomed into a star during his time with the Owls. After redshirting in 2016, he posted seven sacks, 11.5 tackles for loss and three forced fumbles in 2017.
Getting more regular action as a redshirt sophomore in 2018, Roche totaled 57 tackles (40 solo), six sacks, nine tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. Then came 2019, a year in which he was named the AAC Defensive Player of the Year after finishing with 49 tackles (36 solo), 13 sacks, 19 tackles for loss, two fumble recoveries and a forced fumble. After his redshirt junior season, he transferred to the University of Miami for his final collegiate season.
With the Hurricanes, Roche had a successful redshirt senior season. He tallied 45 tackles (27 solo), 4.5 sacks, 14.5 tackles for loss, three fumble recoveries and two forced fumbles in 10 games. Over his time with both Temple and Miami, the 6-foot-3, 243-pound edge rusher proved plenty capable of getting to the quarterback, plus he was solid against the run as well.
PRO DAY DATA AND ANALYSIS
After putting together a great week at the Senior Bowl and finishing with four quarterback pressures in the game itself, Roche had a strong showing at Miami’s Pro Day back on March 29. Despite saying he didn’t reach his goals for the day, Roche raised some eyebrows. Just take a look at this glowing review from Senior Bowl director Jim Nagy:
Biggest winner at Miami pro-day was Quincy Roche. Skilled & highly disruptive (30.5 sacks, 54 TFL, 8 FF, 8 FR). Many felt he was just an overachiever but ran 4.66 today. You want this guy on your NFL team. Just a damn good football player.— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) March 29, 2021
And José will be first kicker drafted. pic.twitter.com/UVDYGEbWY6
Roche running a 4.66-second 40-yard dash at his size is pretty impressive. His size and strength have been questioned in the past, but what he has shown in the pre-draft process has his stock rising. There has been talk about him working as a 3-4 outside linebacker, and at his Pro Day, he had this to say about transitioning to that spot in the NFL (h/t State of the U):
“...Not only do I think I showed that today, but if you watch my film, I checked all of the boxes. I can be versatile...I’m definitely excited about my pre-draft process.”
Roche clearly felt good about what he showed scouts at the Senior Bowl and during his Pro Day. He also said he talked to some teams about transitioning into that 3-4 outside linebacker role, confirming that he feels comfortable doing so.
WHAT HE BRINGS IN 2021
Again, the Bucs are largely looking for depth in next month’s draft. They have Shaquil Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul slotted in as their starting edge rushers, but they could use a rotational type of guy that can come off of the bench to provide some extra pass rush. Roche could do that for Tampa Bay in 2021. According to Pro Football Focus, the former Temple and Miami standout posted 101 quarterback pressures between 2019 and 2020, which made him the nation’s leader. Some analysts note that he is a bit lean and lacks length, but he has shown over the years to be a guy who can compensate for any weaknesses with athleticism, technique, and versatility.
Roche may not be fully ready to step into a prominent role as a rookie, but the Bucs wouldn’t need him to. If they could rely on him to step in and step up on passing downs in year one, they would be more than happy. It’s hard to overstate how effective Roche is at getting after the quarterback. PFF credited him with 36 pressures last year and gave him a pass rush grade of 87.7. And given his projected draft position, Tampa Bay would have to love the value with him.
For Roche, a lot of his longer-term outlook may depend on scheme. With what the Bucs run and how often he would be asked to play outside in a 3-4, he could have a promising future. He doesn’t fit as well into a 4-3 and he may need some time to develop and build up some of his deficiencies, but given what the Bucs have at the outside linebacker position, he would have time to do so. If he is more of a pass rush specialist in year one while playing behind Barrett and Pierre-Paul, he could do plenty of learning to become more well-rounded in his game. What’s intriguing is the possibility of Roche following in the footsteps of someone that Buccaneer fans are plenty familiar with.
While speaking with Damond Talbot of NFL Draft Diamonds, Roche said the player he would most closely compare his game to is, sure enough, Tampa Bay’s Shaq Barrett. Here’s what he had to say:
“Shaquil Barrett of the Buccaneers – He is explosive off the edge, he is willing to play in the run game. He is versatile that can drop in coverage. He has great bend off the edge and can use his hands well. He has a high motor.”
So, how about adding Roche to the mix and letting him learn from the guy whose game he relates to? Plus, it’s not hard to see the young edge defender following a career path similar to that of the Bucs’ prized pass rusher. Barrett went undrafted in 2014 and spent the first four years of his career in Denver. He flashed potential, but largely was stuck in a depth role behind two talented pass rushers. But that time was valuable, and he parlayed it into an opportunity with the Bucs. And with that opportunity, he has flourished.
Roche is projected as a mid-round pick, but he may benefit from some time in a rotational/reserve role for a few years. If he improves in the areas of his game in which he struggles over his first couple of years in the league, perhaps by year three he’s ready to step into a bigger role. And who knows? By then, it’s certainly plausible to think that Pierre-Paul may be off to retirement, leaving an opportunity open in Tampa for a guy like Roche.
Roche has definitely improved his draft stock throughout the spring. He was firmly in the day three conversation prior to the Senior Bowl, but ever since then, there have been some projecting him as a late day two guy. The consensus seems to be that, even if he does last until day three, he won’t be on the board long on the draft’s final day. There may some physical limitations and some areas where his game needs improvement, but Roche could come at an incredible value for a team like the Bucs, who have the luxury of drafting for depth and developmental talent.
ON THE CLOCK...
So, Bucs Nation, it’s time to hear your thoughts. Quincy Roche is an interesting prospect who can contribute in a depth role early while possessing some long-term upside. How do you view him as a potential fit for Tampa Bay? Let us know what you think by voting in our poll and discussing your thoughts in the comments down below.
For Tommy Doyle, the Buccaneers should...
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