:starspin Aaron Rouse Position: Safety School: Virginia Tech Status: Senior Height: 6-4 Weight: 215 40-Yard Dash: 4.33 Sporting News Breakdown NFL comparison: Deon Grant Coverage skills: From deep alignments, reads quarterbacks and breaks quickly to get outside and help cornerbacks on deep routes. Closes quickly on passes in front of him to deliver hard hits. Shows the athleticism to stay on tight ends' hips all over the field. Against speedy tight ends, can lose a step -- because of long legs -- when forced to turn and run. Run/pass recognition: Is adept at reading quarterbacks' eyes. Does not get sucked up by play-action fakes, and has the speed to get to spots in a hurry. Closing speed: Shows a great burst to finish plays. When aggressive, makes strong, physical tackles. After false steps in coverage, still can catch up to tight ends Ball skills: Shows outstanding hands. In two-deep coverage, is adept at cutting underneath post routes for interceptions. Gets outside to help in over-the-top coverage; has the height, long arms and leaping ability to break up jump balls. Run support: Is much better in run support than most safeties. Has good size, instincts and speed to chase down ballcarriers before they turn the corner. Does not deliver violent hits; is more of a catch-and-grab tackler. Always gets his man down, though. Bottom line: Every team needs a guy like Rouse, who sacrifices for the good of the team. Some compare Rouse to the Cowboys' Pat Watkins, a fifth-round pick last year, but Rouse is a better athlete and drastically more productive in all areas -- chasing down running backs, covering tight ends man-to-man, breaking up and intercepting passes in zone coverage and covering kicks on special teams. He will be a good NFL safety who brings just as much to the locker room as he does to the field. About Football Positives and Negatives Positives Aaron Rouse’s physical presence is almost unnatural. Based on his size and speed alone many projected Rouse as a late first rounder before the beginning of the 2006 season. Some NFL scouts dubbed him as “the best player that you’ve never heard of.” In his 2005 campaign with the Hokies, Rouse led the team in tackles, taking snaps at both safety and whip linebacker. Rouse gravitated to the role of leader after the fiasco that was the Gator Bowl (Jimmy Williams’ ejection and StompGate). He rallied the team, and began the season as the undisputed owner of Foster’s lunchpale (the trophy for defensive leader). Rouse’s versatility in stopping the run and sound coverage ability helped to ear mark the Hokies as one of the best defenses coming into the 2006 season. As a reward for his outstanding play he was moved to the coveted “rover” position in Bud Foster’s defense. Negatives The 2006 season. Rouse began the season as arguably the best safety in the country. However, once the time came to play a meaningful game, Rouse was no where to be found. Georgia Tech picked apart the Hokie secondary and not all of it was Calvin Johnson. Assigning Rouse to the Georgia Tech receiving corps was too much. Things only got worse as Rouse was pitiful in the very next game against Boston College. He loafed around the field and ended the night on the bench before engaging in a heated argument with fellow teammates Vince Hall and Brandon Flowers. After the poor back-to-back performances Rouse lost sole ownership of the rover position to another senior, Cary Wade. Since then, Rouse has improved his tackling and put in more effort. However, the two seniors still continue to split time. About Football Overview Overview: What happened? Rouse’s play and behavior mark a 180-degree turn from the 2005 season. There are some talented safeties in this year's draft and Rouse did himself a major disservice by playing so poorly. LaRon Landry and Brandon Meriweather already had a healthy lead coming into the season, but many saw Rouse as the dark horse that might steal the crown. The good news for the Norfolk native is he has unmatched size and strength. Also helping Rouse is the recent talent of Virginia Tech defensive backs in the NFL (DeAngelo Hall, Jimmy Williams, and Eric Green, all of whom Rouse played with in Blacksburg). Nonetheless, those late first-round dreams are all but forgotten. Rouse’s attitude will be of major concern. That same issue haunted his former teammate, Jimmy Williams, in the 2006 draft, where he slid from a sure top-15 pick all the way into the meat of the second round. Barring jaw-dropping numbers from the combine, the same slide is likely to plague Rouse. ESPN Overlook Strengths: A tall, well-built strong safety prospect with exceptional straight-line speed for his size. He has the size potential to match up as an in-the-box strong safety type in the NFL. Fills hard versus the run and flashes some power upon contact as a tackler. He occasionally will make his presence known over the middle in coverage. Shows good closing burst when the ball is in the air. Also displays good ball skills. He has been a durable player throughout his career. Weaknesses: Former outside linebacker with some athletic limitations. Does he fit as an outside linebacker or strong safety in the NFL? He is high-cut and shows some stiffness in his hips. He has excellent straight-line speed but will struggle to change directions in space. He does not show the quick-twitch athleticism to match up one-on-one versus NFL slot receivers. He must also continue to improve his angles in run support. He can play out of control at times. Overall: Rouse appeared in all 13 games in 2003 as a true freshman and made 46 total tackles and three tackles for loss. He saw action in all 13 games in 2004, registering 37 total tackles, including 2.5 tackles for loss at outside linebacker. Rouse started all 13 contests at strong safety in 2005, finishing the season with 77 total tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, four interceptions, five pass-breakups, one fumble recovery, and one forced fumble. In 2006 he appeared in all 13 games, with 10 starts, and recorded 57 total tackles, two tackles for loss, one forced fumble, and one interception. Rouse possesses an exceptional combination of size and speed, and he showed flashes of playmaking ability at the collegiate level. However, while he has first-round tools, Rouse is an underachiever and a positional misfit from an NFL perspective. He doesn't play the game with enough aggressiveness or toughness to project as a linebacker and he makes too many mistakes in coverage to be trusted as a safety at this point. In our opinion, Rouse is too much of a boom-or-bust prospect to draft any earlier than the third round.