Rouse’s lack of size has always been seen as a limitation, but doubt him at your own peril. He and his mother survived without his father, who has been in prison for kidnapping and robbery since Rouse was very young, so he doesn’t see getting hit by bigger defenders as a major problem. He played every game behind eventual first-round pick Ryan Mathews as a true freshman (82-479, four TDs), and then took over as the starter in 2010 (205-1,129, eight TDs rushing; 15-131, two TDs receiving) as a sophomore, missing two games with injuries. Rouse started all 13 games in 2011, carrying the ball a school-record 329 times for 1,549 yards (raining seventh in the FBS) and 13 scores. He also saw a lot of action as a receiver (32-228, one TD). In 2012, as a senior, he carried the ball 282 times for 1,490 yards and 12 touchdowns. As a receiver, he contributed 63 catches for 435 yards and two touchdowns.
A very active runner in terms of exaggerated head and shoulder movement. Despite size, not afraid in the least to cut back inside, even if no real lane is open, just to pick up the yards available. Keeps shoulders square to the line of scrimmage and places a hand on the back of lead blocker. Rarely complacent to just sit behind the line, wants to find an alley, and works well to find small creases in the line. Consistently makes the first man miss in space, and oftentimes the second as well. Shoulders lean over toes when expecting contact or working through the hole. Frame might suggest otherwise, but very good at picking up the necessary two or three yards after finding a sliver of space. Light feet and good balance. Sees time as a slot receiver, specifically to get swings in the flats but also on wheel routes along the sideline. Runs routes smoothly. Has the skills to contort body on back shoulder throws. Excellent with screens, displays patience with downfield blocks. Finds free space with cut back lanes. Does not shy from contact.
Even with his tough running, his small stature makes it unlikely he can be more than a change of pace back at the next level. Lacks consistency in pass protection due to diving at feet for cut blocks. Gets re-routed by pressing linebackers in the slot on crossing routes. Not as explosive a runner as one might expect.
Though Rouse lacks the size typically of bell cow NFL backs, he has handled over 600 carries combined over the last two years, and has produced rushing totals of 1,549 and 1,490 yards, respectively. That toughness, along with his quickness and ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, will make him an intriguing piece to add to an offense. While his game is quite similar to his most cited comparison, Darren Sproles, it does not appear as if Rouse matches Sproles' dynamism.
Future Hall of Famer
A once-in-a-generation type prospect who could change how his position is played
An impact player with the ability/intangibles to become a Pro Bowl player. Expect to start immediately except in a unique situation (i.e. behind a veteran starter).
A quality player who will contribute to the team early on and is expected to develop into a starter. A reliable player who brings value to the position.
A prospect with the ability to make team as a backup/role player. Needs to be a special teams contributor at applicable positions. Players in the high range of this category might have long-term potential.
A player with solid measurables, intangibles, college achievements, or a developing skill that warrants an opportunity in an NFL camp. In the right situation, he could earn a place on a 53-man roster, but most likely will be a practice squad player or a camp body.