Bolts meet with hard-hitting safety

The San Diego Chargers have had a deficiency at strong safety ever since Rodney Harrison was released back in 2003. Now, the team is scouting a safety prospect with the same enforcer mentality and big-play flair that made Harrison so popular. A second-round prospect, this could be someone the team is targeting if it elects to draft a wide receiver in round one.

Aaron Rouse (6-foot-4, 218 lbs.) is one on the most punishing tacklers in the history of Virginia Tech football. During his four years there, he rang up 217 tackles (including 12 for a loss), five interceptions and four forced fumbles. Additionally, he was a dominant presence on special teams.

Rouse owns an exceptionally high football IQ. He has great instincts and understands what opposing offenses are trying to do against him. That allows him to make quick breaks on the ball and regularly wind up in the right place at the right time.

"I'm an intelligent, smart safety and I'm a hard worker," Rouse said. "I'm not going to give up anything. I want to prove that the NFL is my life and that it's meant to be my career."

He did a fine job of proving exactly that during Senior Bowl week. Rouse showed excellent closing speed and was a disruptive force in coverage. He improved steadily each day, thieving two red-zone passes during the week's final practice.

Despite his overall solid performance, there were areas where he struggled. He bit on too many double moves and needed to do a better job turning back for the football. Those transgressions were minimal in the eyes of most scouts, who were more interested in the physicality and leadership he brought to the defense.

"I've got three players that I compare myself to: I have the intensity of Ray Lewis, the ball skills of Ed Reed and the heart of Tedy Bruschi. If you put all of those together, you get me," Rouse said.

Although most NFL general managers aren't ready to put him in that class just yet, they are ready draft him, likely somewhere in round two.

"You name them, I've talked to them," Rouse said. "I've talked to the Minnesota Vikings, Atlanta Falcons, Jacksonville Jaguars, Carolina Panthers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Miami Dolphins, everybody. I've talked to the Chargers some. It's been a great process and I'm enjoying it."

Rouse is a disruptive force on defense. His big hits are notorious for prompting receivers to develop of a bad case of alligator arms; and his knack for generating turnovers at key junctures in games is uncanny. A player like that is hard to find and even harder to replace. Perhaps by selecting Rouse on draft day, the Chargers may finally get it right.


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