Youngstown State DE Derek Rivers: Small School Prospect, Big Time Talent ⋆
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Youngstown State DE Derek Rivers: Small School Prospect, Big Time Talent

Derek Rivers, NFL Draft

NFL Draft

Youngstown State DE Derek Rivers: Small School Prospect, Big Time Talent

Youngstown State DE Derek Rivers: Small School Prospect, Big Time Talent

As we journey through this NFL draft process together, searching for the next great Dallas Cowboys pass rusher, we make an unexpected stop at Youngstown State University to visit Derek Rivers.

Rivers, who was named first team All-Missouri Valley Football Conference this year, is a 6-5 250 pound defensive end who dominated the FCS during his college career. Rivers finished the 2016 season with 14 sacks and 58 tackles, showing versatility as a defensive end against both the pass and run.

In my draft work over at Slant Sports, I completed another scouting report, this time profiling Rivers. Derek Rivers brings a lot to the table, with a great speed rush and an underrated power rush which keep even the best offensive tackles off balance.

His best trait is that first step quickness. Rivers comes off the ball explosively, playing with a jet-pack on his back, especially on obvious passing downs. If your offense gets into a 3rd and long situation against Rivers, he will pin his ears back and get to the quarterback right now.

nfldraft derek rivers 4 – Streamable

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Against the run, Rivers is disciplined and smart in his approach, showing good block recognition and rarely over-pursuing plays.

Rivers is able to beat slower offensive tackles off the ball and cross their face to make plays. He also does a good job of keeping his pads clean and shedding blocks with a quick swim or rip at the point of attack.

nfldraft derek rivers 2 – Streamable

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In my mind, there is no question that Derek Rivers is worth a second round pick for the Cowboys. I have given Rivers a day two grade, and if it weren’t for this deep EDGE class, I believe it would be possible for him to rise into the first round.

Yes, the level of competition (or lack thereof) that Rivers faced in college is a bit concerning, but the traits which Rivers possesses, especially as a pass rusher, make him an intriguing prospect.

The problem is, Will McClay rarely drafts small school guys. Especially not in the first two rounds. As much fun as it would be to see Rivers rushing the passer with a Star on his helmet, the Cowboys front office seems more inclined to take chances on big school guys way before someone from Youngstown State.

I don’t exactly agree with this approach, but it is the way the Cowboys do business. But hey, DeMarcus Ware came from Troy, so I hope this front office keeps an open mind.

Remember to keep checking both Inside The Star as well as Slant Sports for scouting reports, Cowboys mock drafts, and overall draft coverage over these next few months.

Kevin Brady

Die-hard Cowboys fan from the Northeast, so you know I am here to defend the 'boys whenever necessary. Began writing for a WordPress Cowboys Blog, and am currently a college student. Lets get going.

  • Russ_Te

    In a deep draft for DL, just the kind of player that could fall a bit and the Cowboys come away with impact talent in the 2nd or 3rd round. That way you can get the CB first.

    Or it could work in reverse of course, but I hope that is the opening goal on draft day – high rated DE and CB – unless a different position grading out far better, has fallen to them. All this buzz about drafting a WR is nonsense to me, again unless it’s somebody who fell and cannot be passed up. Then Bryant might be on the trading block for a top CB or DE, etc.

    But you can lose Terrance Williams, hold Dez, Butler, Beasely and Whitehead – and barring major injury still be strong in that unit. Whereas new talent on defense puts this team over the top. That has to remain the focus, even if Jerry has to be locked in a closet on draft day…

    The small school is a ? that I think the scouts knock out with eyeball evaluation. They know if he is quick enough and strong enough against NFL talent. And / or if he coaches up well. In Ware’s case there was zero issue – you knew he could do it.

    A bigger issue to me is if Rivers always played LDE. No sense in drafting DE high up if it’s not a player with that cat-like first step – and then he’s going to RDE where that is needed most. But sometimes changing sides is a problem for both DE’s and OT’s.

    Again they just have to sort that out. If it’s a known problem then let him fall and try to get him later. It more likely is not a problem however.

    • Kevin Brady

      It’s very possible he could fall to the Cowboys in round two, simply based off the depth of this edge class. However, he is rising fast and looks like he will test well at the combine. If that’s the case, he could easily rise into the first round, forcing Dallas’ hand. Always must remember, though, just because we love him does not mean McClay and the Cowboys do.

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