Youngstown State defensive end Derek Rivers is quickly becoming my favorite choice for the Dallas Cowboys first round pick of the 2017 NFL Draft.
At the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine, Rivers further cemented himself as a real prospect with a chance to be a solid professional player for a long time. Rivers, who finished the 2016 season with 14 sacks and 58 tackles, ran a 4.61 40 yard dash this weekend, fourth amongst defensive linemen.
While some have questions about Rivers’ power and game strength, his 30 bench press reps of 225 pounds was also the fourth highest for his position group.
The numbers look pretty, but to be quite honest his tape already speaks for itself. Over at Slant Sports I wrote up a report on Rivers’ film, and ended up giving him a first round grade as time passed. While he may be coming from a small school, I see no reason why his traits and abilities to get after the quarterback will not transfer to the next level.
On tape, Rivers explosiveness is off the charts. His first step is as good as just about anyone in this deep EDGE class, and his ability to hand fight and win with outside rush moves is impressive.
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Rivers shows the ability to convert speed to power in pass rush, remains balanced throughout his rush, and always looks to have a plan. He has active hands, an explosive speed rush, and impressive inside counter moves.
Against the run, Rivers remains disciplined and patient when reading his keys. A balanced player with good body control, Derek Rivers flashes the ability to beat offensive tackles across their face, and track plays down the line of scrimmage to make tackles.
There is literally only one concern that you could have about drafting Derek Rivers in the first round, and it really has nothing to do with him as a player. The fact that he comes from a small, Division I-AA school may scare some teams off, but his pass rushing traits are absolutely undeniable.
He is an incredible athlete, as his combine testing further proved. When facing “tougher” competition at the Senior Bowl, Derek Rivers showed no signs of being over-matched.
Derek Rivers has become my “pet cat” of the 2017 NFL Draft, and while some fans (like staff writer Sean Martin) are not fully on the Rivers-train, I believe he would be a perfect fit for the Dallas Cowboys.
And yes, I believe that he is absolutely worth a first round pick in this year’s NFL Draft.