Derek Rivers, EDGE, Youngstown State
Ht. 6'3½", Wt. 248, Arm: 32¾", Hand: 9⅜", Bench: 30
40 yd: 4.61, 10 yd.: 1.61, 3 Cone: 6.94, Vertical: 35", Broad: 10'3"
Derek Rivers was a team captain for Youngstown State and is the school's all-time career leader with 41.
Rivers played in the FCS National Championship game in Frisco, losing to James Madison. Back in January, he was a standout performer during the Senior Bowl practice week.
Connecting you to your favorite North Texas sports teams as well as sports news around the globe.
Strengths (per former NFL Scout Chris Landry and Pro Football Focus)
• Flexible athlete with natural bend to dip around the corner
• Easy burst off the edge
• Extends with a quick punch to engage and create spacing while maintaining his balance and low pad level
• Uses his hands well to fend off counter jabs, showing various snatch and rip techniques…flashes the ability to convert speed to power in his pass rush
• Moves well laterally to sidestep blockers
• Alert run defender to keep contain and string plays outside - sees through blockers to track the football
• Strong hands/wrists to finish tackles
• Athletic bloodlines - father (John) played basketball (903 rebounds, 108 blocks) and football (20 catches, nine receiving touchdowns) at Virginia Tech
• Has worked hard to max out his frame
• Senior captain and considered a low-key, high character individual
• Productive three-year starter with 56.5 tackles for loss in 37 career starts.
• One of the top athletes in the entire class. Fantastic burst off the line of scrimmage when he gets an obvious pass situation.
• Almost never came off the field for Youngstown State. Played 79 of 83 snaps against West Virginia and all 58 snaps against Eastern Washington.
• Plays with great leverage against the run and as a bull-rusher. Sinks his hips and keeps arms locked out.
• Extremely disciplined against the run. Carried out his assignments almost to a fault at times.
• Has the ability to drop off the line of scrimmage and play in space if need be.
Weaknesses (per Landry, draft analyst Nolan Nawrocki and PFF)
• Slightly undersized frame and lacks ideal length
• Doesn’t have the upper body power to press blockers off his frame and can be engulfed by wide-based blockers
• Tends to get lost on inside runs and can be sealed from lanes
• Struggles to anchor vs. power and can be taken out of the play
• Requires a half-second to reset his eyes vs. the run when required to start/stop
• Initial burst isn’t an issue, but often late off the snap and needs to improve his anticipation
• Room to expand his pass rush moves to keep blockers guessing
• Battled a right ankle sprain as a senior (Nov. 2016) - started taking medication for seizures when he was nine years old…lacks ideal experience against top competition - only three career starts vs. FBS competition (six tackles, two sacks)
• Has short arms and stays blocked too long
• Tight-hipped and needs to do a better job anchoring against the run
• Does not play strong or physical
• Gets knocked off the ball and pinned inside and outside.
• Production came in clumps vs. bad opponents.
• Level of competition is a serious concern. Wasn’t nearly as productive in Senior Bowl practices as he was at Youngstown St.
• A good deal of pass rushes with no real plan of attack. Runs straight at tackle and engages.
• Too often content ceding ground in the run game. Will lock into the block and almost refuse to make plays outside of his gap.
• Mostly a one-hit pass-rusher. If his initial move is stoned, he has little else in his toolbox.
NFL Draft comparison: Williams Hayes, Miami Dolphins.
Verdict: Third round
Scouts think Rivers may be best as a 3-4 linebacker rather than a hand-down defensive end in a 4-3 defense. He was a three-year starter with lots of production at YSU. He played for Bo Pelini who coached a lot of good players during his tenure at Nebraska and LSU.