Name: Derek Rivers
Pro Team: New England Patriots
College Team: Youngstown State University
Draft Status: Round 3 Pick 19 (83rd Overall)
- Height: 6’4”
- Weight: 248 lbs
- Hands: 9 3/8″
- 40-yard dash: 4.61 sec
- Arm Length: 32 3/4″
- Bench: 30 reps
- Vert: 35.0”
- 3-Cone Drill: 6.94 sec
- Broad Jump: 123”
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- Quick and efficient hands with power helps him with his bull rush.
- Explosive off the snap, and uses speed to power to help set the edge for the pass rush.
- Closing speed makes him dangerous.
- Rivers will help stopping the run as well as being one of the better pass rushers on the Patriots. His versatility to either play with his hands in the dirt or standing up will make him valuable as the Patriots have got themselves a blend of former players; Jamie Collins and Chandler Jones.
- Needs to develop consistent hand usage to help with separation from blockers.
- Must create a counter move to help with pass rush inside.
- Coming from a small school, Youngstown. How will he hold up and adapt to the speed of the game?
- He should fine-tune his skill-set and improve his awareness, as he can disappear from plays at times or get taken out of plays.
The path to snaps got a little more clearer as old time veteran, Rob Ninkovich, decided to call it a career and hang up his cleats. Rivers was in line to be the backup to Ninkovich, but that has all changed now which leads to him possibly landing a starting gig early on.
The Patriots have also lost Jabaal Sheard and Chris Long in the off-season. That’s a ton of vacated snaps as Sheard saw 670 snaps, Long had 741 snaps and Ninkovich had 566 snaps – a total of 1,977 snaps! Now, don’t be expecting Rivers to get that much but there’s a good chance he sees at least 700.
With him lining up at Collins’ old linebacker position, coaches see him like Jones was in his rookie year (when he managed 728 snaps, 6 sacks and 28 QB hurries). That shows the Patriots value Rivers highly and will love his versatility. At the very least, he should be a pass-rush specialist coming in on nickels or some third and long plays.
Rotation, rotation and rotation. That’s what the Patriots are pretty much known for, to keep fresh legs on the field. Although Rivers will be playing both outside linebacker and defensive end, he’ll still be in competition for snaps with Kyle Van Noy, Trey Flowers and Kony Ealy and in actuality he shouldn’t have a problem beating out Van Noy.
Besides the rotation, the other threat to Rivers is the learning curve when moving from a small school to the NFL level.
As long as Rivers continues to develop throughout camp, and at the very least get snaps as a pass-rush specialist, he could very well meet Jones’ rookie sack total of six. With his ability to contribute in stopping the run, he can become a poor man’s Leonard Williams in IDP during his rookie season.
Once he becomes the versatile chess piece, Rivers will hit his ceiling of a DE2 (top 20). Jones had an average of 55 tackles per season and nine sacks – this could very well be Rivers IDP Profile. There is some hope that he can surpass those numbers as well as be near a full-time player because Ealy and Van Noy are free agents in 2018; Flowers is a free agent in 2019, so pending any extensions or how Rivers develops he could easily convince the Patriots there’s no need to re-sign one of two of the upcoming free agents and show he can handle a full load.
Rivers is a solid value in drafts at the moment. In a few drafts, I have been able to land him anywhere between the fifth and seventh round. The word isn’t out on Rivers just yet and there’s a good chance he’ll continue to fly under the radar which will allow you to get him cheaply.