I admit that the first time I heard someone called an OG I immediately thought that stood for old guy. I was slightly confused however when the individual being given the moniker was far from an elder, appearing to be in his early thirties at the oldest. I decided to google the definition; OG is a slang term for someone who’s incredibly exceptional, authentic, or “old-school.” Suddenly the reasoning behind the title given actually made sense.
While watching some film on Steelers rookie edge player Quincy Roche from his collegiate career at Miami recently, the whole OG definition came to mind. Roche is a technique conscious and fundamentally sound defender. He performs more like a seasoned veteran than a rookie; excelling due to a variety of moves and counter moves usually reserved for experienced professionals. His instincts and intangibles also belie his age. He has fine tuned these abilities to help maximize his merely average athleticism. That isn't meant to imply that Roche isn't athletic, because he is. Merely to point out how he has managed to be highly productive thus far in his career without having exceptional athleticism often required at the position.
How does that favorite quote go that every coach has on a plaque somewhere in their office? "Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard!" That's a OG type statement if I ever heard one. That's exactly what comes to mind every time I watch tape of Roche. He looks far more polished than your typical rookie coming into the NFL. That maybe because he is slightly older than the average rookie at 23 years old, having to sit out a season after transferring from Temple. Thing is, if you watch his film at Temple, you still see the same guy with superior intuition and feel for the game.
Roche has never had exceptional athleticism, therefore he hasn't developed the crippling bad habit of becoming overly reliant on a level of abilities he never had. Try saying that real fast three times in a row. So many players never learn the finer points of the game moving up the ranks because their athleticism becomes a type of security blanket, like a mobile QB fleeing the pocket at the first hint of pressure. Those type of young players are often referred to as being raw. Roche is the antithesis of that type of prospect.
Roche played mostly as a hand in the dirt defensive end while in college, but now he will be a stand up outside linebacker for the Steelers. Normally I would expect an adjustment period whenever a collegiate DE is making the transition, similar to how former Steelers Joey Porter and Clark Haggans took some time to adjust to their new responsibilities.
However, I really don't expect the move to be an issue for Roche, especially with a more normal preseason and training camp to get him up to speed. He is a cerebral player who's ballhawking tendencies are the byproduct of consistently being around the football, and making an impact when the situation presents itself. He creates opportunities through effort, rather than waiting to absorb the action if and when it comes his way.
Roche finds himself in the enviable position of playing for not only the best franchise in the NFL, but following in the distinguished footsteps of a fraternity of HOF caliber and Pro Bowl level linebackers. He won't be thrown headfirst into the fray, instead he will be entrusted to spell established starters for two or three series a game. During that time, he will need to utilize every OG tool in his toolbox to set an effective edge and make opposing QBs feel uncomfortable in the pocket.
If Roche can do that consistently enough, coupled with his tendency to make game changing plays, he will become a fan favorite in Pittsburgh. Nobody knows what Roche will become, or if he is capable of being yet another in a long line of exceptional Steelers linebackers, but I definitely wouldn't put it past him. He has found himself presented with an excellent opportunity, the type an OG would take full advantage of.