Derek Rivers 2017 NFL Draft Profile

Overview
Position: Edge Defender
Height: 6’4”
Weight: 248 pounds
School: Youngstown State Penguins

Combine Performance Data
40-yard dash
: 4.61 seconds (fourth among defensive linemen)
Bench press: 30 reps (tied for fourth among defensive linemen)
Vertical jump: 35 inches (tied for fifth among defensive linemen)
Broad jump: 10 feet, 3 inches
Three-cone drill: 6.94 seconds (third among defensive linemen)
20-yard shuttle: 4.40 seconds
60-yard shuttle: 12.43 seconds

Derek Rivers 2017 NFL Draft Profile

Derek Rivers is a player whose stock is on the rise in a major way. Coming out of high school, Rivers was undersized, light and under-recruited. He spent a semester at Fort Union Military Academy as he tried to get noticed by D-1 schools. He found his way to FCS school Youngstown State and transferred there for the 2013 season.

As a freshman for the Penguins, Rivers played sparingly, recording 13 tackles and 2.5 sacks. Then, in his sophomore year, he began to explode into the draft hopeful that he is now. As a sophomore, he put up 50 tackles, 17 for loss to go with 14 sacks. He finally got FBS attention, but in an environment with Jim Tressel and Bo Pelini, he thought it may be a better opportunity than other schools.

Rivers was named to the All-Missouri Valley team that season and went on to be named to the team for the next three seasons. During his junior year, Rivers recorded 52 tackles, 15.5 for loss and eight sacks. As a senior, he put up 58 tackles, 19.5 for loss and 14 sacks and helped lead Youngstown State to the FCS National Championship game. While the Penguins lost to North Dakota State, it was just the beginning of his draft ascension.

Rivers went to the Senior Bowl and proved that he fit in and stood out next to big level talent. Then, he went to the Combine and posted above average traits at almost every drill. How high has Rivers stock climbed, and what scheme would be best for the pass rusher from Youngstown State?

Strengths

  • Plays well with hands;
  • Shows great bend around the edge;
  • Quick first step off of the ball;
  • Can rush the passer standing up or with his hand down;
  • Has a good punch and dip move;
  • Gets good arm extension to disengage from blockers;

Weaknesses

  • Doesn’t have ideal arm length and will struggle with longer armed lineman in the NFL;
  • Has not faced much top level competition;
  • Doesn’t drop into coverage often;
  • Might be a bit light to set the edge in a 4-3;
  • Not the most gap aware player against the run;

NFL Comparison: Ryan Kerrigan

Teams with needs at position: Miami Dolphins, Pittsburgh Steelers, Indianapolis Colts, Detroit Lions, Dallas Cowboys

Projection: Early second round

Bottom Line

If Rivers had come from a SEC school or any big name program, he would have been a surefire first round pick with the potential that he could be a top 15 pick. However, the competition in which he faced was not the best, and his speed and ability to win with his hands may look advanced but may be more emphasized due to competition. His ability to get extension from blockers may also be exaggerated, and his arm length measured to be well below average compared to others in the NFL.

But on tape, Rivers stands out and explodes which is what you need to see from a small school player. He tested to athletically fit in, and as he fills into his body he should be strong enough to hold the edge as a strong starting outside linebacker in the NFL. He may be a first round value that is found in the second round or later in the 2017 NFL Draft.

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