The Pittsburgh Steelers seemingly got a steal in the sixth round of the 2021 NFL Draft in outside linebacker Quincy Roche. Now the Miami product by way of Temple is participating in his first set of OTA practices as of this week. After Wednesday’s OTA practice, Steelers’ second-year outside linebacker Alex Highsmith was asked about Roche and what he’s seen out of him so far in the limited time he’s been around him.
“It’s been great having him in,” Highsmith said of Roche. “You know, he’s done a great job coming in. He’s a guy who’s willing to work, eager to learn. He’s always asking questions. That’s one thing I like about him and I respect about him is his work ethic. And I can already tell that he works hard and that he cares about what he does. He balled out in college so I’m excited to see what he can bring to us here.”
It certainly would be nice to see Roche progress quickly this offseason, as the Steelers really need one of their outside linebackers to step up and take control of the third spot on the depth chart behind starters Highsmith and T.J. Watt. Last season that player was Highsmith. He played right out of the chute on defense and did manage to progress as his rookie season went on.
Roche is quite an intriguing prospect with what appears to be a nice upside. He measured in at his Pro Day at 6025, 245 pounds with 32 1/4″ arms and 9 1/4″ hands, and ran his 40-yard dash in 4.69 seconds, in addition to doing 23 reps on the bench. He also had a 32 1/2” vertical and a broad jump of 9’11”.
During his college career, Roche had 30.5 career sacks, 54 career tackles for a loss, eight career forced fumbles. He played his first three years at Temple before transferring to Miami for the 2020 season.
At worst, Roche should hopefully start the 2021 season as a special teams contributor and possibly even a core unit member. From there, he could see more and more defensive action as his rookie season rolls on.
Currently, Roche is part of an outside linebacker room that doesn’t include a lot of experience. That group includes the likes of Watt, Highsmith, Cassius Marsh, Christian Kuntz, Jamir Jones, Jamar Watson, Calvin Bundage, and Roche. Of those eight players, only Watt, Highsmith and Marsh have NFL experience. Additionally, like Roche, Watson and Bundage are both rookies.
“It’s going to be awesome having him in the linebacker room,” Highsmith said of Roche on Wednesday.