Rivers May Be Steelers Target

As we draw closer to the NFL draft in April more and more mock drafts have the Pittsburgh Steelers selecting North Carolina State quarterback Philip Rivers with the number 11 pick. <br><br> It is no secret that the Steelers brass is enamored with Rivers and Rivers admits that the Steelers are on his mind.

"That is a team that has shown some interest," Rivers acknowledged. "I had a good meeting with them at the combine. Coach Cowher graduated from NC State so we had a good connection. A franchise like the Steelers with the tradition and the location would be a great place."

There is a lot to like about the 6 foot 5 quarterback. Rivers is the second leading passer in NCAA history with 13,484 career passing yards, breaking school and ACC records. He set a NCAA record with 51 career starts at quarterback and tied for fifth in NCAA history with 95-career touchdown passes.

But there are questions about Rivers.

He has a very unorthodox delivery (tends to sidearm the ball), doesn't have a gun for an arm, is slow, and his footwork needs some improvement. Overall, he does not have a lot of athleticism and his lack of mobility is a concern.

"The way I usually approach that," Rivers explained. "Is that if you took all 32 starting quarterbacks in the NFL and lined them up and let them all throw - there would not be one of them throwing exactly the same. I think for me it's just my natural way of throwing the ball and I also think it's not as awkward as it once was. As I developed as a player my arm got stronger and it molded in to something different. It's still awkward, but I don't think it's totally unorthodox and a lot of my throws in our offense were quick short throws and that was another reason for some of the different releases - I just used different throwing lanes to get it there as quickly as possible."

Rivers has been projected to fall in the middle of the first round of the draft.

"I've heard a lot of positives and I still hear some negatives," Rivers said. "I've really tried to take the approach that if I hear something great I don't get caught up in it or if I hear something negative I don't get so disturbed by it that you worry yourself to death. You hear so many things and nothing is finalized until you hear your name called on draft day. I'm hearing a lot of positive things and my hopes are high. I just know that I've been working hard and I had a pretty consistent Senior Bowl."

Rivers has good size and decent arm strength, but it's his incredibly quick release and uncanny accuracy (71%) that catches everyone's eye. He is an intelligent pocket passer, and he has good instincts for the position. He goes through his progressions well, often finding secondary receivers. Rivers is not very athletic, but he does throw well on the run. He is a tremendous leader who doesn't rattle easily.

That being said Rivers says he still is evolving as a quarterback.

"I think I can make all the throws, there are some guys that can throw it through a brick wall and I don't think I can do that." Rivers stated. "I'm plenty strong enough to make all the throws. I certainly feel confident in my ability to play the position at the next level, but I also know that I need to continue and develop and work.

"I don't see one glaring thing and that's not to say I feel like I'm perfect because I don't. I think there's some little things to work on like my footwork in the pocket and getting your feet squared to try and make a throw."

Rivers feels he brings a lot to the table.

"Well I think non-physical strengths of leadership and being able to get guys to rally and get guys to play hard," Rivers said. "Playing so many games and growing up around football with my dad being a coach - I feel that's one asset I do have. I think I'm accurate as a QB and I think I can find a way to win."

It remains to be seen if Pittsburgh will expend the number 11 pick on a quarterback when they have some other glaring needs.

Rivers wouldn't mind the situation with the Steelers and being able to learn the position from veterans Charlie Batch.

"Obviously there's two different approaches," Rivers stated. "You get thrown in there and you have to battle and struggle as a rookie like Peyton Manning, who didn't have a great rookie season and now he's considered the top quarterback in the league. Or you can be molded behind a guy and learn and be ready one or two years down the road. I don't necessarily have a preference. Certainly I feel comfortable with whatever route that I'm able to take."

Thoughts of playing in Pittsburgh excite Rivers.

"I would be excited to go anywhere, Rivers explained. "You mention a team like Pittsburgh and that fires me up that it could be a possibility."

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