Derek Rivers, EDGE
School: Youngstown State | Conference: Missouri Valley
College Experience: Senior | Age: 22?
Height / Weight: 6-4 / 248 lbs
Projected Draft Status: 2nd Round
NFL Comparison: Jerry Hughes
Outside of Missouri’s Charles Harris, Derek Rivers may be the draft's most natural edge-rushing prospect that projects to linebacker at the next level. River’s holds the sack record for Youngstown state and has been starting at defensive end for 3 seasons. When I say he’s a natural edge rusher I’m talking about his combination of flexibility/bend, speed/twitch, strength/power. He’s also scheme versatile for teams looking for a prototypical 3-4 outside linebacker or teams looking for a talented 4-3 rush end that can line up at the 5-tech or 9-tech in either the 3 or 4 point stance. Rivers plays with a level of consistency lacking in this year's group of edge rushers. He put up solid numbers in pretty much every single game he’s played in. Rivers has made himself millions by performing at a high level not only on game day but in front of NFL front office personnel the last few months.
- Great athlete with fluid yet tight and controlled bend and flexibility to turn the edge. Has great burst and speed.
- Attacks with purpose at the point of attack with a powerful punch and arm extension.
- Ability to convert speed to power is good. He can move a tackle backward and collapse the pocket.
- High motor and effort player. Will chase a QB until the ball is thrown or the play is over.
- At his best, he uses all the ingredients in the recipe. Can play with speed and power and has a nice rip and counter move as well as an arm under that can expose the inside gap.
- Can lose focus on defending his gaps during his rush. Can create too wide a rush arch leaving space for mobile QBs or running backs. Needs to get off blocks quicker.
- Nitpick: From a traditionalist standpoint lacks the desired arm length off the edge to combat offensive tackles.
- Level of competition concerns.
- Can get stagnant in his rush if his speed/power initially fail. Has initial hesitation that can expose his responsibility playing the run.
Let’s see his work:
No official count (they act like it's a state secret) but around 20 teams and 6 position coaches at YSU today for Derek Rivers and A. Moss.— Zac Jackson (@AkronJackson) March 14, 2017
DE Derek Rivers is a strong dude.. Uses a mix of speed/power moves (30 reps at a Combine) - this DL was aggressive! Every play race to QB.. pic.twitter.com/dlonZ8xm1d— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) March 13, 2017
Derek Rivers On War Path! pic.twitter.com/0oebnEeVsE— Dustin Laratonda (@DaBigEasy24) March 18, 2017
How He Would Fit On The Redskins
If the Redskins are at all interesting in Derek Rivers they are doing a good job of keeping it under wraps. Rivers to the best of my knowledge has not met with Redskins scouts, worked out for the team and they were not in attendance at his pro day. Rivers is currently drawing interest from playoff-caliber NFC teams including two division rivals (Falcons, Cowboys, and Eagles). It’s easy to see how a player like Rivers would make the Redskins better. Frankly, he could challenge Preston Smith for reps and maybe even Junior Gallete playing off the weak side almost immediately if there is an open competition at the position.
It’s also easy to get excited about Rivers skills and potential. He has the prototypical frame and skill set for a 3-4 outside linebacker. The physical tools with his strength and athleticism to be a great rush linebacker at the next level. He plays with an excellent motor and although he is not yet a complete prospect (questions about his ability to remain disciplined with his gaps vs. the run) he offers immediate pass rush value off the edge and doesn’t need much handholding when it comes to that aspect of his game.
The value of the pass rusher can mask a lot of issues and serves to benefit Rivers despite his issues playing the run, questions inflated stats because of the level of competition. Rivers is coachable. Praise has been thrown his way by Dan Quinn himself after Rivers had a private workout with the Falcons. He has a clear understanding of the issues he needs to correct and how to correct them. Rivers is projected to go into the second round and may make some uneasy about his potential selection because of his weaknesses. However, if he learns how to execute his hand combinations and feet moving and learns how not to expose his inside gap he could be a dangerous and prolific for years to come.