Duke Riley, LB
School: LSU | Conference: SEC
College Experience: Senior | Age: 22
Height / Weight: 6-0 / 231 lbs
Projected Draft Status: 4th Round
NFL Comparison: Deion Jones
Duke Riley had a breakout senior season at LSU. After spending most of his career as a backup to Deion Jones, Riley filled the void nicely. Riley is one of the better athletes in this linebacker class. He has the speed and quickness to play sideline to sideline. While speed and quickness are Riley’s most positive traits a knock on him is his size. He played much if the year in the mid 220’s and some consider him to be undersized to play inside especially in a 3-4 scheme at the next level. Riley is a very smart player that is willing to put in the work but with only one year of starting experience, he needs a lot of work.
- Riley has good instincts for the position. He has good vision and right more times than not on knowing where the ball is going.
- Can defend the run but also offers value as a blitzer. If used creatively and effectively blitzing from a well-designed stunt is where Riley can excel in the NFL.
- Great athleticism.
- Riley’s size and strength are issues. Too many times I saw him moved off his spot by offensive lineman and is inconsistent in fighting through blocks.
- Due to Riley’s size and speed it would help if he were proficient in coverage as well but with one career pass defended, one career interception and seeing him making a tackle almost always after the ball is caught I can’t say with confidence that he is natural or good in coverage.
- One year of starter level production.
Let’s see his work:
Love how LSU LB Duke Riley (40) attacks the blocker here.. pic.twitter.com/93Sk4yUu6g— Ty Wurth (@WurthDraft) November 30, 2016
I watched #LSU LB Duke Riley last night. Liked him more than Kendall Beckwith. Deion Jones-lite. Fast, undersized LB. Weigh-in important— Paul Conner (@P_ConnerJr) January 19, 2017
LSU LB Duke Riley led the South in tackles, credited with 7 (4 solo). Kansas State DE Jordan Willis had 2 strip sacks & a PBU #seniorbowl— Mike Margittai NFL (@DraftMaverick) January 28, 2017
@ArifHasanNFL yeah Anzalone looked good, but I saw Duke Riley make a few plays— Eric Edholm (@Eric_Edholm) January 28, 2017
I said this a While Back. Duke Riley is D. Jones 2.0. Pass him in the Draft & you will regret it. I would grade him as Late Rd1 early Rd 2. https://t.co/p3yjuj9xcJ— Josh Lemoine (@LsuFBallTruth) January 28, 2017
How He Would Fit On The Redskins
I think Riley finds himself in a tough predicament despite his recent praise. He has a lot of issues to be ironed out including getting stronger, becoming more active with his hands to fight blockers, improving in coverage and despite the totals, he needs to improve his tackling technique (over half of his tackles were assists). I don’t want to sound overly harsh but I think he is an interesting project to develop but is definitely not starter material coming in.
Like his predecessor, Deion Jones, who went to the right team with the scheme and right defensive head coach Riley’s fate will be tied to him being drafted by a team that has a clear plan on how to use and develop him. While I have no doubts the young man can get better the Redskins immediate need at the ILB position are all in areas where Riley needs heavy work, namely fighting through blocks, sound solo tackling, and coverage. At the end of the day, I don’t think Riley is versatile enough to be a fit for the Skins.