“I’m never surprised when I’m the underdog. I feel right at home.”
Quincy Roche was a favorite around Big Blue View prior to the 2021 NFL Draft. Particularly for one mock drafter who kept selecting Roche for the New York Giants over and over, and only bypassing him some weeks because picking him got boring and pointless.
So, Roche being awarded to the Giants on waivers Sept. 1 is a bit of validation for Big Blue View. The Giants are telling us we were not crazy for liking this player.
Now, can the 23-year-old Randallstown, Md. native actually help the Giants?
“This is a good system, good defense for me, I’m getting to learn it inside and out. As time goes on I’ll learn it even more. I think I could do some really good things here,” Roche told Big Blue View during an exclusive phone interview Thursday evening. “I’m just trying to find my role on the team, develop the relationship camaraderie with the guys, know my job, do my job and keep building from there.”
Roche was selected in Round 6 (216th overall) by the Pittsburgh Steelers. He was cut when 53-man rosters were announced despite 1.5 sacks and three preseason quarterback hits, and the Giants pounced.
“It’s been a learning process. I’m a rookie coming into this business, that’s [switching teams] kind of part of it. Sometimes being a late-round pick you get put in this situation,” Roche said. “I’ve kinda gotta learn quick … I don’t really have a choice. I jumped on a moving train, so I gotta kinda get with the program, mature fast, learn fast, but that’s just part of the job.”
Giants defensive coordinator Patrick Graham said jokingly that when he first met Roche that the young man “almost broke my hand” when he shook it.
When that was mentioned to him, Roche laughed and said “I guess my father taught me well.”
Roche was the youngest of seven children. What does he remember about being the little guy in the house?
“A lot of wedgies. A lot of getting picked on when my mother was at work,” Roche said.
“I’m just joking. I love my brothers and sisters, but that’s the kinda things that build character. As you get older those are the kind of things that I’m more thankful for now that I wasn’t an only child, no disrespect to only children.”
One of his brother, Tommy, died in 2018. Roche carries his memory.
“You can never really forget one of the people who inspired me to even start playing this sport. You can never really forget him,” Roche said. “That’s one of the people who, I lie to you not, when I was younger that’s who I was playing for. All you wanted to so was make your big brothers proud.”
Fending off six older siblings wasn’t the only thing that shaped Roche’s character. He was diagnosed as a child with Tourette’s Syndrome, which causes a person to have repetitive tics or twitches, or to emit sounds they can’t control.
Children can be cruel, and Roche had to learn to deal with the slings and arrows from other youngsters who didn’t understand what he was dealing with.
“I like to look at it as an advantage. Having to deal with those things and conquer those things at such a young age it kinda puts you at an advantage when you get older over people who may not have had to deal with those issues. I kinda look at it as a blessing and an advantage that I was able to go through something like that. I kinda wear it with honor every day. I look at it as a good thing, not a bad thing.”
In 2019, Roche earned the honor of wearing a single-digit uniform at Temple.
“It’s one of the biggest honors of my career. That’s something that I don’t really take lightly. It’s something that not everybody gets the opportunity to do,” Roche said. “Even to this day I kinda wear that as a badge of honor, a badge of pride. One you’re a single-digit, you’re a single-digit forever. You’ve gotta act like it, live like it. That’s how everybody identifies you. If you don’t live up to it, if you don’t live up the requirements of being a single digit that you kinda look bad. I just don’t want to look bad.”
All of that has helped Roche deal with the fact that he is an NFL underdog. A late-round pick who had tremendous collegiate production at Temple and Miami, but doesn’t generally fit the bendy, twitchy physical profile teams look for in edge defenders.
Here is part of the scouting report from Dane Brugler’s 2021 Draft Guide:
“Roche is an easy player to admire with his ability to pounce out of his stance and never quit in his pursuit of the football. However, he is overly reliant on that first step, lacking ideal play strength and move-to-move sequencing. Overall, Roche’s average traits will be tough to overcome vs. NFL blockers, but he is the type of pass rush prospect who will make it because of his toughness, feel and effort. He projects as a situational or sub-package rusher.”
Roche doesn’t mind being labeled as the underdog.
“That’s kinda been the story of my life,” Roche said. “I’m never surprised when I’m the underdog. I feel right at home. I’ll just keep doing what I’ve been doing.”
Roche participated in the Senior Bowl, and the event’s executive director, Jim Nagy, praised his work. Nagy said that Roche was “better than I thought he was and that he was “probably going to be a better player and outperform wherever he gets picked.”
Roche called Nagy’s description “pretty accurate.”
“I’ve never been a guy that pops out when somebody looks from the eye test. I’m not the biggest, tallest, strongest, fastest, but one thing I know how to do is get to the quarterback,” Roche said.
“I just try to keep getting better from there. I try to be who I am, be the best me I can be.”
If Roche’s “best me” translates into being a player who can help the Giants’ pass rush, they will take it.
Bonus ‘Kudos & Wet Willies’
Roche played along when I asked him if he would do a random three-question ‘Kudos & Wet Willies’ session. Here we go:
The ‘Matrix’ movies:
(In honor of the trailer for ‘Matrix Resurrections being released)
Roche: “Kudos … It’s one of my favorites that I used to watch growing up … I’ve seen it about 50 times.”
New Jersey drivers and traffic:
Roche: “Wet Willie … It’s definitely worse than Pittsburgh.”
(Weird, yes, but asked because my wife once ordered Ahi Tuna at a fancy restaurant without knowing what it was)
Roche: “Wet Willie.”