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Falcons make Youngstown State's Derek Rivers feel at home in workout

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Falcons make Youngstown State's Derek Rivers feel at home in workout

 

Vaughn McClure

ESPN Staff Writer

 

Former Youngstown State edge rusher Derek Rivers wasn't sure what to expect during his first private workout for an NFL team. As it turned out, Dan Quinn did the unexpected.

 

Rivers developed an immediate bond with the Atlanta Falcons coach as Quinn, a defensive line guru, showed his hands-on approach.

 

"Coach Quinn was actually real active in the workout,” Rivers said. “He pretty much ran them, yes sir. It was the first time I'd seen a head coach go out there and direct the D-line drills, so it was cool. It was real cool.”

 

Quinn might end up putting Rivers through drills on a regular basis. The Falcons no doubt would love to pair another edge rusher alongside NFL sacks leader Vic Beasley Jr., and Rivers is a prospect on the rise. He measured in at 6-foot-3 and 250 pounds Thursday as he worked out for the Falcons along with fellow defensive end Avery Moss and cornerback David Rivers (no relation).

 

Rivers is projected to be drafted between the second and third rounds, but could elevate his stock between now and the April 27 NFL draft. Last year, some teams didn't have a first-round grade on safety Keanu Neal, the Falcons' 17th overall pick. Neal made an immediate impact as the team's starting strong safety.

 

The Falcons own the 31st overall pick in this year's draft, with an edge rusher and offensive guard looking like the top priorities after the team landed top free-agent nose tackle Dontari Poe. Rivers, from North Carolina, would be ecstatic to play for just about any NFL team. But he seems to have a genuine desire to be a part of the Falcons after spending time around Quinn, defensive line coach Bryant Young and linebackers coach Jeff Ulbrich.

 

“Even if the Falcons hadn't gone to the Super Bowl last year, I know I would be with an organization with awesome coaches,” Rivers said. “I love their coaching staff. I just love the vibe that they have. They are some of the coolest coaches that I've ever met. I'd be totally comfortable and super excited. I'd give my all anywhere, but when you love your coaches, you give an extra amount of effort because you don't want to disappoint them.”

 

Rivers said Thursday's workout lasted about 25 minutes. Falcons strength coach Jesse Ackerman conducted the warm-up and three agility drills. Then came five defensive line and pass-rush drills with Quinn and Young. At the end, Ulbrich had Rivers go through some drops to check out his hips.

 

So what type of feedback did Rivers get from Quinn?

 

“It was all good,” Rivers said. “He said both me and [Moss] did well and that we helped ourselves out. He said he liked how we strained hard and didn't take any reps off. He put into the context of, 'Both of you guys made some money today.'"

 

Quinn also relayed to Rivers exactly what he's looking for in an edge rusher.

 

“He just said, `We're looking for guys that are consistent every single play,'" Rivers said. “He said the type of pass-rusher they want is someone who keeps going and has a motor and someone who has skill. The biggest thing was consistency that coach Quinn said, coach Ulbrich said, and coach [Young] said.”

 

Rivers had 41 sacks, 56.5 tackles for losses, and 49 quarterback hurries in 49 games at Youngstown State, playing defensive end and linebacker. His NFL combine numbers included 4.61 seconds in the 40-yard dash, 30 bench-press reps and a 35-inch vertical leap.

 

“I love to pass-rush,” Rivers said. “My biggest asset that I bring to a team is my pass-rush ability and my leadership qualities. The biggest thing that separates me is my faith in God and my work ethic.”

 

Rivers said he and Moss spent extensive time watching other pass-rushers, including viewing film of Beasley coming out of Clemson even before Beasley's breakout season with the Falcons.

 

“I love the way he rushes,” Rivers said of Beasley. “His first step is ridiculous. And he's a strong kid. He's just an athlete, man.”

 

Beasley-Rivers sounds like a combination that could be a nightmare for quarterbacks for years to come.

 

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read that.   Will have to study him more.   I don't believe he would be in play for our 1st round pick.

 

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OK, not impressed with his "highlights" as you can see here - he looks stiff as a board to me - don't want him in any round based on this - which, granted - is not whole picture.....watched a few minutes of one game and was even less impressed - keep in mind as well, this is a lower level of competition.

 

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24 minutes ago, FalconAge said:

Pair either him or Jordan Willis with Vic and its #teamlightskinned for real lol

not impressed w/ Derek Rivers - OR - Jordan Willis.

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Posted (edited)

54 minutes ago, g-dawg said:

read that.   Will have to study him more.   I don't believe he would be in play for our 1st round pick.

 

I've been plugging him since before the Senior Bowl as a 4th-5th rounder....his combine really wowed me...but his game tape doesnt match it, IMO

Falcons are looking for a LEO...and Derek Rivers (4th), Jordan Willis (1st-2nd) fit that mold...

I think we go BPA in the 1st, might even trade up for Reddick...

We are going defense "heavy" between R1-4....might be another 3 guys to 1....

I havent seen any TE workouts, so seems like we are neglecting an extremely deep class at that position, plus we brought back Tiololo on a sizeable contract for a backup, blocking TE

If we can get Lamp, it wouldnt surprise me if we went defense the rest of the draft...

1) Lamp

2) Tanoh

3) BPA defense

4) BPA defene (maybe Rivers?)

5) BPA defense

UDFA: FB, DL, OL, WR, QB, LB, DB

Edited by Matt_The Iceman_Ryan

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Posted (edited)

7 minutes ago, g-dawg said:

not impressed w/ Derek Rivers - OR - Jordan Willis.

I think the coaches at KState really emphasized stopping the run first...and in the Big 12, lots of "quick" passing schemes, so how much can you expect out of a DE? I really think thats why his first step looks slow...go back and watch a game, but only look at his first step on 3rd and 6+....its much quicker...

Im going to use the Ogbah comparison from this standpoint...very athletic, but didnt go until the 2nd round....WHY? Was it motor? Did the Big 12 offenses hurt him? He ran 4.63 at 274lbs...that Garrett...but his 3-cone was average...

I look at Willis and I see production, I see athleticism, and I see the highest level character and football IQ..at a position of slight need....Im taking that in the 2nd round...

Edited by Matt_The Iceman_Ryan

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10 minutes ago, g-dawg said:

OK, not impressed with his "highlights" as you can see here - he looks stiff as a board to me - don't want him in any round based on this - which, granted - is not whole picture.....watched a few minutes of one game and was even less impressed - keep in mind as well, this is a lower level of competition.

 

I don't see stiff as a board at all. This is the first video I've ever seen of him so id have to see more but stiff as a board definitely didn't pop into my head. Explosive did though.

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He is a Beasley clone from the looks of it.  Technically he is a little bigger and the workout numbers are just slightly behind Beasley.  That being said, Beasley was off the charts athletic so I would call Rivers extremely athletic.  If you think you can play in opposite of Beasley matched up with bigger/stronger right tackles, then go for it.  Today's NFL is so different than the NFL of the 80's and 90's.  You just need defenders that can get after the QB, play fast and be athletic.  Plus Poe will help with the stoutness against the run.  Guys like Crawford/Shelby should be able to play stout on the end opposite of Beasley.

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20 minutes ago, g-dawg said:

OK, not impressed with his "highlights" as you can see here - he looks stiff as a board to me - don't want him in any round based on this - which, granted - is not whole picture.....watched a few minutes of one game and was even less impressed - keep in mind as well, this is a lower level of competition.

 

Yea I guess 2nd is way to high for him. Guess I loved the speed not the film

stupid me 

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54 minutes ago, HEIST said:

Stiff where :huh:

I know I like him more than others on here but I don't see stiff. 

he looks like he tackles w/o being able to bend at the waist.

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1 hour ago, atljbo said:

I do

I know his production sack/TFL stats are impressive as well as his combine numbers  - but what about his tape excites you?  I was underwhelmed and this was a "highlight" video.     To me, if you watch a highlight video and are not wowed, then that is a bad starting point.

Maybe it is just a bad video w/ bad highlights - maybe because it is a small school there is not enough film on the guy because they were not on TV enough.   Maybe not enough draftniks follow him.

I watched the highlight video and some game footage as well - and came away unimpressed with his play and I thought his fluidity of movement was poor and he looked stiff and not playing with much lean that you want to see in an edge player, atljbo.

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1 hour ago, g-dawg said:

not impressed w/ Derek Rivers - OR - Jordan Willis.

Bingo. I agree completely, especially when there are guys like Daeshon Hall, TJ Watt, and Tyus Bowser, as well as arguably Tanoh Kpassagnon, who straight up dominated their competition, many against better comp frankly. Kpassagnon isn't as fluid as the other three but he shouldn't be expected to be at 290 lbs. He's still an absolute freak and was straight up throwing guys around.

Note: not just guys in his division (though imo Lamp didn't do too bad at first...but man, that's ragdolling a possible top 20 pick)

 

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I wrote up a scouting report on Rivers, if any of you are interested. Still need to post a ton of my reports but I'm lazy copying them down from my notebooks. Thread is in NFL Draft and FA forum.

3178L.jpg

Derek Rivers | DE | 6'4 | 248 lbs | 32 3/4" arms | 9 3/8" hands| SR | Youngstown St.

40: 4.61 sec | Bench: 30 reps | Vert: 35" | Broad: 123" | 3C: 6.94 sec | 20SS: 4.40 sec

Positives: Undeniably physically talented athlete with great height and the frame to put on more good weight. Good initial extension to make first contact. Consistent both in terms of getting production and playing style. Surprisingly good against the run even at lighter weight; could be a byproduct of competition level but has a good foundation to work with. Shows excellent first few steps as a stand up pass rusher. Good speed rush; has potential to develop good rip despite not using it enough in game. Flashes athleticism several plays per game. Moves well laterally. Great motor, always giving 100%. Will work to improve himself. Best fit is as a defensive pass rusher with potential to grow into a bigger role.

Negatives: Inconsistent first step when lined up with his hand in the dirt. Will require heavy coaching as his pass rush reportoire is nearly non-existent, showing the occasional rip or mediocre bull rush but otherwise relying entirely on athleticism. Doesn't rush with a plan. Once the tackle has his hands on him, doesn't have the length to disengage and isn't slippery enough to avoid them getting their hands on him in the first place. Either terrible at recognizing run plays or freelances; will race upfield and tackle just rides him out of the play or all the way to the ground. Even Div II tackles taking him for a ride too often and he gets by due to being a freak athlete. Never strings moves together, though that is rare for college athletes so it isn't a huge knock. Big questions on both awareness and football IQ. Will need to be told exactly what to do, and that will probably be exclusively pass rushing.

Projection: Rivers has a solid physical skillset and many will be intrigued by his great showing at the Combine, but he's strictly a project and will likely contribute little or nothing his first couple years in the league. Optimal contribution initially is as a rotational pass rusher. Great motor should at least secure him a spot for Special Teams with the potential to develop further. 

Opinion on Falcon Fit: Middling. Is best as a stand up rusher and would do very well in a 3-4 scheme as a OLB on pass rushing downs. Could do alright in a nickel pass rushing role but that takes away a considerable amount of his explosiveness. Teaching style would help a lot here - that's the biggest enticing factor. Quinn might see clay. Not fluid enough or experienced enough in coverage to be a SAM. Will likely require a 2nd round pick due to other teams drooling over measurables but can't justify that due to lack of length and overall inexperience.

Final Grade: 4th round 

(note: for us, our 3rd is borderline 4th so it wouldn't be a bad idea, just don't have big expectations right out of the gate or you'll be awfully disappointed. Doubt we take him anyways after what I watched, there are better guys in the same mold)

 

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People are talking about him as a first rounder. I don't see it. I mean I think he could be a good player but not a first round pick at all.

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3 hours ago, SkerFalcon8710 said:

Would love to grab him in the 2nd or move up in the third. Would be a great book end for 3rd n long with Beasley

 

and once again these players time after time after time rave about Quinn. I hope we just found our 10+ year coach 

Why would you love to grab him in 2nd or 3rd?  Watch his tape and tell me why you love him?  I want to love every prospect - just did not see much that made me think he would prosper at the next level....I could be wrong but that was my impression.

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2 hours ago, g-dawg said:

 

 

I love his speed once he turns the corner. It's like he's shot of a cannon or has that next gear once he beats his man. He isn't stiff, but I didn't pay attention to his repertoire of moves to see if he's all bullrush or has some other skills. Definitely fast and locks in on his target, which means he may not get faked out very often. Not sure I'd love him in the first round, but if DQ and TD take him then I'm all for it.

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14 minutes ago, g-dawg said:

Why would you love to grab him in 2nd or 3rd?  Watch his tape and tell me why you love him?  I want to love every prospect - just did not see much that made me think he would prosper at the next level....I could be wrong but that was my impression.

I'm a bit biased bc he comes from Youngstown and pelini is the coach and he is a great defensive guy. I think 3rd round would be resonable but if we grabbed him in the 2nd I wouldn't be mad. I trust Quinn's judgment. I think based on the number of Edge prospects we've worked out we can bank on 1 of the first 3 picks being that position. Like I said I see what your saying but think he can develop into a great bookend with Beasley 

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6 minutes ago, kjv315 said:

I love his speed once he turns the corner. It's like he's shot of a cannon or has that next gear once he beats his man. He isn't stiff, but I didn't pay attention to his repertoire of moves to see if he's all bullrush or has some other skills. Definitely fast and locks in on his target, which means he may not get faked out very often. Not sure I'd love him in the first round, but if DQ and TD take him then I'm all for it.

I never see him bend - I've watched this tape 3 times now.  Watch between 2:14 - 2:25, this is your classic beat the tackle coming around the edge and flatten to the QB - watch his movement.....he is not bending/leaning at all and is rather tall right before he tackles/sacks the QB.   I don't see the classic bending/flattening to the QB - thus my "stiff" comment.  because he is.  Find me a play he makes where you think he looks like he has the classic passrusher move on the edge.

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25 minutes ago, SkerFalcon8710 said:

I'm a bit biased bc he comes from Youngstown and pelini is the coach and he is a great defensive guy. I think 3rd round would be resonable but if we grabbed him in the 2nd I wouldn't be mad. I trust Quinn's judgment. I think based on the number of Edge prospects we've worked out we can bank on 1 of the first 3 picks being that position. Like I said I see what your saying but think he can develop into a great bookend with Beasley 

I trust Quinn's judgement as well but if he was at the pro-day and putting Derek Rivers through his paces with 20+ other NFL team scouts watching and he said "You made you some money today" - that is probably just Quinn being encouraging.   This was the school workout that ALL the NFL teams come to at once right?  this was not a private Falcons workout.

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