Scout Analysis: Keith Rivers

Linebacker may not be a great need for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but that doesn't mean there aren't great linebackers worth their first-round pick. Scout.com's draft analyst Chris Steuber and Bucsblitz.com's Matthew Postins break down USC LB Keith Rivers, and they both believe you'll be impressed. It's all here in this "Scout Analysis."

Keith Rivers (Sr.), OLB – USC

Height: 6-3

Weight: 237

Strengths: He's an outstanding athlete who's always around the ball. He has tremendous range and plays sideline-to-sideline. He's extremely active and takes good angles in pursuit. He has good agility and drops back well in coverage. He roams around on defense and is always looking to deliver the knockout hit. He shed blocks well and has a good burst towards the ballcarrier. He's an outstanding leader who possesses a great work ethic.

Weaknesses: He has to improve his skills in blitz situations and stay disciplined. He's a good tackler, but he has to be less aggressive and use proper technique. He has to improve his hands when he drops back in coverage.

Steuber Says: "Rivers is a solid linebacker who will be an immediate starter at the next level. He has all the intangibles of an All-Pro player and the leadership qualities of a defensive captain. There are plenty of teams that could use a linebacker of Rivers' ability, teams like New England, Cincinnati, New Orleans, Carolina and Tampa Bay. He can play in a 3-4 or a 4-3 defense and be very productive. Rivers is the best linebacker in the 2008 draft."

Postins Says: "What I liked about Rivers when I watched him practice at the Senior Bowl was his fluidity of pursuit. There was no herky-jerky movement, no sudden cuts. It's as if he knew exactly where he was going every play, and I think that's because he does. This guy is strong enough and quick enough to play all three linebacker positions in a 4-3, which makes him a valuable commodity. He seems like the type of player the Buccaneers would love to have on their roster without a doubt. The problem is that Rivers may not be there when the Bucs select at No. 20. But, if for some reason he is, it's not out of the realm of possibility for the Bucs to select Rivers and deliver themselves Derrick Brooks' heir apparent. He's that talented.

A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America, Chris Steuber has provided his analysis of the NFL and NFL Draft prospects on the web and on the radio since 1999.

Matthew Postins covers the Buccaneers for BucsBlitz.com and the Charlotte Sun-Herald in Port Charlotte, Fla. An award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers Association, he appears frequently on Scot Brantley Show from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WHBO 1470-AM in Tampa-Clearwater.


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