With the 216th pick of the 2021 NFL Draft (32nd in the sixth round), the Pittsburgh Steelers selected Miami (FL) edge rusher Quincy Roche, to provide depth to the Steelers’ pass rush. Here’s an introduction to the team’s new defender.
A player at New Town high school, Roche comes from Randallstown, Maryland. Roche’s high school career saw him play both tight end and defensive end and set New Town’s record for sacks. Roche was named an all-state player for the team. Recruited as a three-star defensive end, Roche received five offers out of high school. He chose Temple over those other options, which included Appalachian State and Toledo.
HIS TIME IN COLLEGE
Temple redshirted Roche his first season in 2016. He appeared in all 13 of the Owls’ games in 2017 as a redshirt freshman, finishing 11th on the team in total tackles, but finishing second in tackles for loss and third in sacks despite a limited role. He led the program in forced fumbles. Temple went 7-6, winning the Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla Bowl.
Despite the production, Roche filled a similar role in 2018 with the Owls, and provided similar results as Temple went 8-5 and won the Independence Bowl. Roche was seventh on the team in tackles, second in tackles for loss, sacks, and forced fumbles, and led in QB hits and blocked kicks.
Roche finally joined the Owls’ starting lineup in 2019 as a redshirt junior, starting the season as a Preseason All-AAC selection on the edge. Starting 13 games (his third consecutive year playing that many), Roche was ninth on the team in tackles, running away with the team lead in tackles for loss and sacks. He finished fifth in FBS in sacks and 11th in tackles for loss, as Temple went 8-5 and lost in the Military Bowl.
Following the season, Roche was selected as the AAC Defensive Player of the Year, and earned a place on the conference’s first team. He left Temple as a graduate transfer, and joined the Miami (FL) program for his final season.
Roche started all 10 games for Miami in 2020 as a defensive end, finishing third in the ACC in tackles for loss and leading the conference in forced fumbles. He was fourth on the Hurricanes in tackles, second in TFLs and sacks (behind first-rounder Jaelen Phillips), and led in fumble recoveries. Roche was named to the All-ACC third team, and appeared on the Bednarik and Nagurski Watch Lists.
BY THE NUMBERS
Roche appeared in 49 career games over four years, 10 with Miami and 39 with Temple. Here are his stat lines by season:
2020 (Miami, 10 games): 45 tackles (27 solo), 14.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, one PD, three FF, two FR
2019 (Temple, 13 games): 49 tackles (36 solo), 19 tackles for loss, 13 sacks, six PD, one FF, two FR, one blocked kick
2018 (Temple, 13 games): 57 tackles (40 solo), nine tackles for loss, six sacks, one PD, two FF, two FR, two blocked kicks
2017 (Temple, 13 games): 31 tackles (26 solo), 11.5 tackles for loss, seven sacks, three FF, one FR
The Steelers were present at Miami’s Pro Day, likely to scout Roche as much as fellow defensive ends Phillips and Gregory Rousseau, as well as tight end Brevin Jordan. There was not a large degree of reporting connecting the Steelers and Roche prior to Day 3.
HIS PITTSBURGH FIT
Quincy Roche played defensive end for the Owls and Hurricanes, but the Steelers announced the pick at the podium as a linebacker, indicating they plan to bring him off the line and have him learn to rush as an OLB behind T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith.
Roche will need a season to learn behind both of them, but his ceiling is higher than that of Pittsburgh’s other Day 3 selections to that point. If Highsmith falters, Roche could step into the starting lineup opposite Watt, and brings a pass rush profile that the team can use immediately. He will also see time on special teams as a rookie.
Our Tom Mead profiled Roche, labeling him a third round pick with plenty of potential.