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There are hundreds of stories being told during the planning and anticipation of the 2017 NFL Draft. Today we will be looking at a scouting report for junior defensive end/outside linebacker Derek Rivers, Youngstown State Penguins.

DE/OLB-Derek Rivers, Youngstown State 6’4” 250 lbs.

This young defender has risen up the charts since his performance in Mobile, Alabama around the Senior Bowl practices. Rivers amassed 120 solo tackles, 53 assists, 41 sacks, 56.5 tackles for loss, three forced fumbles, and four fumble recoveries in his four-year career as a Youngstown State Penguin. Because he played for a smaller college with limited film opportunities, I decided to get to know this young man better by listening to a few of his interviews and found him to be a well-spoken, faith-based athlete who takes nothing for granted. Since I’m a high school football coach and educator by trade, let’s break down what I saw in the four games I reviewed of the junior defender: the Senior Bowl games and practices, 2016 contests versus Northern Iowa and Illinois State along with a 2015 game against North Dakota State. Most of these game videos are available via draftbreakdown.com. These are my thoughts:

Cons: He is still a raw piece of clay, especially against the run. The defender gets upright very quickly which causes him to be off-balanced and tackle ball carriers high. Rivers bends a lot at the waist instead of dropping his hips (which seem a bit tight); this allows blockers to get into his body, which causes him to take more time disengaging from the offensive lineman. The former Penguin doesn’t always identify sweeps to his side which makes it harder for him to anchor and contain. There were a few times that he became over-aggressive which creates a rushing lane or lets the quarterback escape the pocket. Rivers is somewhat slow to pursue when the play goes to the other side of the field and did not look natural dropping back into pass coverage. On the few snaps I did see, the defender was very grabby with his offensive counterpart.

Pros: Like he said in his interviews, Rivers has his bull rush power rush and a speed combo dip and rip rush. The defender lines up outside the tackle in either a two, three, or four point stance and has a lightning quick first step. The former Penguin lines up a lot as a seven tech, but will play five tech as well. By getting his powerful punch thrown immediately, he fully extends his arms and creates space between himself and the blocker. His opponents double team him regularly, but he can work out of it or occupy them both by giving a fellow defender the chance to make a play untouched. Rivers has bouncy feet and works down the line of scrimmage to chase down the ball carrier.

Overall impressions: To quote my friend, @JoeWEverett, “Rivers might be wasted at outside backer”. He seems to be a better 4-3 defensive end who can key on rushing the passer first. I have him just inside my top ten rookie defensive linemen, but will have him in the fifteen or lower linebacker spot. Without the practice week leading up to the Senior Bowl and his in game performance, Rivers might have waited an additional two rounds longer to hear his name called. That my friends is the importance of the Reese’s Rub!

Thanks for reading. I will continue to discuss my scouting reports with you throughout the next several months, so keep checking the site for more content. Please check out my other content as well. You can also follow me on Twitter @AndrewMiley.

 

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