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NFL Draft 2017 Profile: Defensive End Derek Rivers (Cowboys Pre-Draft Visits)

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A closer look at one of the Cowboys 30 pre-draft visits, defensive end Derek Rivers.

NFL Combine - Day 5 Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

We continue looking at prospects in the upcoming 2017 NFL Draft from a decidedly Cowboys point of view. Taking the Cowboys current personnel, draft position, scheme, and needs into consideration; defensive line, linebacker, defensive backs, as well as complementary offensive pieces at tight end and right tackle, we hope to profile the majority of the potential prospects that could realistically end up as Cowboys within the first two rounds. Now that all of the “official visits” have leaked we’ll profile as many of those prospects as we can.

Today’s Prospect - (Reported pre-draft visitor)

#11 - Derek Rivers - Defensive End - Youngstown St. - 6-4, 248

Career Stats:

  • 2013 (Freshman - 10 Games): 13 Tackles, 4.5 TFL, 2.5 Sacks, 0 FF, 0 PD
  • 2014 (Sophomore - 12 Games): 50 Tackles, 17 TFL, 13 Sacks, 1 FF, 0 PD
  • 2015 (Junior - 11 Games): 52 Tackles, 15.5 TFL, 8 Sacks, 1 FF, 0 PD
  • 2016 (Senior - 16 Games): 58 Tackles, 19.5 TFL, 14 Sacks, 1 FF, 1 PD

Games Watched: West Virginia, North Dakota St., Northern Iowa, Illinois St.

Pros: Good size/frame that looks like it could easily handle weight without sacrificing athleticism. Plays with more power than his size would indicate, with a strong punch and good bull rush. Flashes an excellent first step and burst when he times the snap, explodes off the ball. Shows big time athleticism and explosiveness a few times each game although he also disappears for stretches and seems a bit inconsistent. Does a good job of converting speed to power but needs to do it more consistently. Looks amazing when his motor is running hot. Does a nice job of using his hands to swipe away the hands of OT’s in order to win the edge. Shows a little bit of a rip, inside counter, and bull/jerk move. Decent bend around the edge but it doesn’t always look fluid. Impressive Senior Bowl performance mitigates concern over lower level of competition. One of the top Combine performances from a defensive end and excellent career production (56.5 TFL, 37.5 sacks).

Cons: Sticks to blockers too often, not sure if this is a matter of lacking refinement as a pass-rusher or not working hard enough to fight off blocks. Plays too high and loses leverage against the run, also loses balance at times in the run game. Hooked and turned out of his gap at the point of attack too often vs. the run. Lacks ideal change of direction and side-to-side agility, lumbers at times. Doesn’t show a second/counter pass-rush move once engaged with linemen, he is extremely difficult to stop once he has momentum but he has a tough time restarting/countering if his initial burst is stopped. Average bulk and length, needs to add size to hold up vs. run in the NFL. Almost exclusively played left defensive end in college, was rarely matched up against left tackles even at a lower level of competition. Tested a bit better than he plays, doesn’t always play to timed speed/athleticism consistently.


Game-Ending Sack vs. Illinois St.
Sack with Slight Rip Move vs. Northern Iowa
Blows by RT vs. North Dakota St.
Puts Northern Iowa RT on His Back
Sack vs. Illinois St.
Sack on Inside Move vs. North Dakota St.
Bull Rush vs. West Virginia
Inside Pressure vs. West Virginia

Conclusion: Inconsistency and a lack of refinement in certain areas are causes for concern but overall Rivers is the type of athlete who would be extremely intriguing under the tutelage of Rod Marinelli. He has good size with growth potential at 6-4 and nearly 250, along with an excellent first step, explosiveness, and burst, that you just wish you’d see it more. If he can become more consistent and is able to take to Marinelli’s coaching you could have a consistent 8-10 sack type of end on your hands after a year or two of seasoning.

He has a very high ceiling, although it may take some time to develop considering the jump in competition and the need for development in the run game, as well as in his pass rush technique. For me he would be an ideal pick at 92, but would be a solid choice at 60 as well, even if just a backup option.


I do not have access to coach’s film or anything of that nature, I just watch plenty of football (television broadcast version) and go off what I see out of a prospect.

Special thanks to DraftBreakdown for posting the videos that help provide a more in-depth look at this year’s prospects.