If there is one back that will be playing the underdog, it is Fresno State’s Robbie Rouse. The Bulldog’s All-Time leading rusher has put together solid seasons in back to back campaigns. His freshmen season, Rouse only rushed for 479 yards but finished his career with three consecutive 1,000 yard seasons; not to mention, he racked up 33 touchdowns at the same time. Without having huge production in the passing game, Rouse has shown he is more than capable of being a threat in that regard.
|Height||Weight||40 Time||Vertical Jump|
|5’6″||190 lbs||4.80 seconds||34.0 inches|
What you will notice almost immediately from Rouse is his size. He is a smaller back but he can use that to his advantage. A linebacker or safety will have issues locating the back until after he has already hit the hole. With a low center of gravity, it will be hard for defenders to size him up to land a big hit. Having shorter leg he seems to have no issues with cutting and changing direction; as many defenders have found out, Rouse can get to the second level quickly.
To be as small as he is, Rouse has no issues with durability having consistently carried the ball for an average 300 times over his junior and senior seasons. He did play through a rib injury during his tenure, but that just goes to show you his toughness. There are qualities about Rouse that just can’t be coached, for instance his toughness, drive and heart.
Rouse is not a running back who can only contribute rushing, as he spent time as a receiver out of the backfield or in the slot. Although he won’t be the hybrid-style back, he is not a liability catching the ball. Over his last three seasons, Rouse had 110 receptions for 794 yards and five touchdowns. With an average of 7.2 yards per reception which is what Darren Sproles averaged in his senior season.
As much as I see his size as a strength, it is also a weakness for him. As is the case with most smaller backs, he will not be a very good pass blocker. Constantly diving at the feet of defenders, an athletic pass rusher will leap over him and get to the quarterback. Rouse will need to work on his technique and strength in order to help protect the quarterback, teams might have to keep in an extra blocker and utilize him in the pass game. He was known to be more productive lined up as a slot receiver, then standing in the backfield as another blocker.
Rouse also will need to work on how he carries the ball, which on film you can see he carries it very loosely. As I have seen with most running backs at the college level, they are careless with the ball and prone to making mistakes. One way to work on this aspect of his game is to have him carry the ball everywhere, much like what the New York Giants did when Tiki Barber had issues holding onto the ball. Most young backs only have two points of pressure on the ball when you need to have three or more.
While watching Fresno State’s offense on tape, most will notice they run a mainly out of shotgun formations. At the NFL level, Rouse will need to get more comfortable standing behind the quarterback and not to his side. Also having a fullback in front of him, should allow Rouse to be more productive at the NFL level.
With his size and his speed or lack thereof, Rouse will not be a feature back in an NFL offense. However he should make a good change of pace back like Jacquizz Rodgers or Darren Sproles. He has very comparable size and skill set to both of them. You can expect Robbie Rouse to receive a call on day three; I have him going in the sixth round.