Duke Riley has become one of the hottest names in this class after his strong combine performance. He led his positional group with an impressive 4.58 40 yard dash time, showing off his impressive speed. Throw in that he also led his positional group in 3 cone time and 20 yard shuttle and you have a fast riser in an already deep draft class.
Riley’s strong combine performance only emphasized his strong play during his senior season. For the year, Riley had 93 total tackles, 9 tackles for a loss, and one interception. Riley was also voted as the LSU MVP by his teammates and was also named as one of the three defensive captains for this past season.
Duke Riley may not be the biggest name but he does have many traits that translate well to the NFL. He also has the leadership ability and hard working mentality to be a great locker room presence for whichever team drafts him. That mentality along with his athleticism makes him a very intriguing option late day two/ early day three.
Name: Duke Riley
Size: 6’0”/ 232 lbs/ 32” arm length
Comparison: Telvin Smith (Jacksonville Jaguars)
Draft Grade: 3rd Round
Combine: 40 time: 4.58 seconds, Bench Press: 18 Reps, 3 Cone Drill: 6.89 seconds, 20 Yard Shuttle: 4.21 seconds
Strengths: Athletic linebacker who covers a lot of ground. Very good understanding of gap assignments and fills run lanes well for a smaller guy. Improved a lot over the course of his college career, shows his ability to develop. Excels at covering running backs out of the backfield, has the quick footwork and speed to match their route running. Above average blitzer, shoots gaps with great speed and explosion. Read and react ability got better later in his senior season, showed a lot of improvement in that department. Better tackler than most in the class. Natural aggressiveness is there, loves to throw his body around.
Weaknesses: Smaller frame may limit him to a WLB or Will backer in the NFL. Although he sheds blockers well for his size, he does tend to get thrown back or off balance way too often by bigger guards. Too over aggressive at times, leaves his assignment in pass coverage open off of play action way too often. Only forced one turnover in four seasons so playmaking ability is certainly an issue. Angles are poor at times. Only produced his senior season in college, concerns that he may be a one year wonder.
Overview: Duke Riley is an athletic linebacker who moves well in space and showed consistent improvement throughout his college career. His play escalated so much that by the end of his Senior season, he was arguably the best linebacker on the team (over teammate Kendell Beckwith even). His size and play style may limit him to a WLB spot in the NFL but that is a position that he could thrive in. I expect him to play similarly to Deion Jones last year minus some of the production. If he ends up in a good situation with a good defensive coordinator, expect Riley to be one of the steals of the draft at the linebacker position.