The opt-outs are starting to roll in fast and furious. And the latest two big names are quite a bit different in our eyes than the previous three. We already saw Caleb Farley (86.9 overall grade), Rashod Bateman (87.1) and Micah Parsons (91.6) perform at an elite level a season ago, as indicated by their PFF grades. Their ability to consistently dominate their peers isn’t in question at this point. So, from that perspective, it would have been difficult for any of those three to push their draft stocks much higher with their play in 2020.
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That can’t be said as much for Miami (FL) edge defender Gregory Rousseau and Purdue receiver Rondale Moore. Despite his gaudy sack total from a year ago (16), Rousseau was far from a consistent pass-rusher (80.7 pass-rushing grade) and run defender (68.9 run defense grade). Moore, on the other hand, will head into the 2021 NFL Draft with only 185 snaps played in the past two years after his 2019 season was cut short by injury. What does that do to their respective draft stocks? I’m glad I asked.
[Editors Note: PFF’s customizable NFL Mock Draft Simulator gives you the opportunity to be the GM of any team and is now updated with a select group of 2021 prospects]
Purdue WR Rondale Moore (2021 Big Board Rank: 7th)
There is little doubt that I’m high on Moore, as indicated by his standing on PFF’s preseason Big Board. Moore has performed at an elite level before, starting with his incredible freshman campaign. He racked up 114 catches, 1,258 yards, 12 touchdowns and an FBS-leading 37 broken tackles back in 2018. He was the most electric player in the country as a true freshman. The sky looked like the limit for his Purdue career.
He similarly started out the 2019 season on fire with 367 yards through his first three games before a hamstring injury sidelined him for the rest of the year. The issue is that while Moore showed he could perform at an elite level, he did so from the slot. Of his 938 career snaps, only 91 have come as a split wide receiver. The NFL has historically valued slot-only receivers far less than those who can win outside, and for good reason — outside production is far more difficult to create within a scheme.
That mindset may be changing, though. We saw primary slot receivers Jerry Jeudy, Justin Jefferson and K.J. Hamler all get drafted highly this past April. So while Moore could have taken his draft stock into the stratosphere by proving he can be a downfield threat as an outside receiver, it would be very surprising to see him fall out of the first round.
Miami (FL) Edge Gregory Rousseau (2021 Draft Board Rank: 10th)
While you can still pencil in Rousseau as a top-20 pick, there’s a good chance he left some proverbial meat on the bone by opting out of the 2020 season. He played at 247 pounds last season and had no power element to his pass-rushing repertoire. With Rousseau up to 265 pounds now, there were whispers of that changing in 2020. Now, they’ll stay whispers.
Rousseau has some of the freakiest edge traits you’ll ever see at the position being 6-foot-7 with a wingspan that could give Giannis Antetokounmpo a run for his money. At that size, he still routinely got underneath the pads of offensive guards with his crazy flexibility. He has tools that are waiting to be tapped into, but you’d feel far more comfortable if that tap was overflowing this fall.