When you watch a small school prospect, the first thing you want before watching the tape is to see is above average, consistent production. Derek Rivers passes this first test, amassing 37.5 sacks and 56.5 tackles for loss over a 49 game career, with 14 of those sacks coming in his senior year when he was paired with Nebraska transfer and fellow NFL Draft prospect Avery Moss. Rivers then capitalized on the hype train from his solid Senior Bowl with an excellent combine performance and now has draftniks and scouts are giving him serious consideration in the bottom half of this year’s draft.

Name: Derek Rivers
Position: EDGE
Size: 6’4″/248/32 3/4 Arm Length
School: Youngstown St.
Class: Senior
Comparison: Whitney Mercilus (Texans)
Draft Grade: Early 2nd Round
Combine Results: 40 Yard Dash – 4.61, Vertical Jump – 35″, Broad Jump – 123″, 3 Cone – 6.94, 20 Yard Shuttle – 4.40, 60 Yard Shuttle – 12.43, Bench Press – 30 reps

Positives: Athletic with a potent speed rush. Coiled stance and above average first step. Executes successful bull snatch/dip & rip effectively and often. Active hands at point of attack. Uses average length well, getting extension with a heavy punch. Limits strike zone on inside moves vs. aggressive sets. Bends in the right places and can turn/flatten to quarterback. Maintains speed through contact. Shows ability to counter with a club but didn’t use often enough. Disengages vs. tight ends easily. Decent anchor. Maintains power with high hands and low pad level. Disciplined when not given two-way go vs. mobile quarterbacks. Plays with proper leverage vs. zone read. When backside run defender, stays square and shuffles down LOS.

Negatives: Lacks an effective counter when first move fails. Plays blind at times; loses proper eye level when squeezing gaps. Motor will run cold when plays are away from him. Will get moved backwards by double teams. Limited snaps dropping into coverage. Lower level of competition padded sack stats.

Outlook: Rivers has the size and athleticism to fit any scheme and is comfortable standing up and with his hand in the dirt. Will have to use every bit of his average length at the next level and develop counters to fully develop but he has the tools to be a top tier pass rusher. NFL teams will love his ability to get after the quarterback and turn a blind eye to the other minimal flaws in his game.

About The Author Michael Kist

Michael is an NFL Draft enthusiast, aspiring scout, and grandson of longtime East Stroudsburg (Pa.) HS football coach John P. Kist. He also contributes to the popular @DraftRT Twitter account. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelJKist.