The Patriots went into the offseason knowing they needed to address their pass rush situation, and after addressing it in the trade market with Kony Ealy, New England went back to the EDGE spot and drafted Derek Rivers out of Youngstown State with the first of their two 3rd Round picks.
Rivers, who is listed at 6'4, 248 pounds, played his high school days at Kinston High School in Kinston, North Carolina. Rivers played linebacker and tight end, and he was an all-conference selection at linebacker his senior year. He also led Kinston to the NCHSAA 2A State Championship Game where they unfortunately lost. He was a standout basketball player too, and his senior year he also led them to the state finals, this time winning the game.
Rivers attended Fork Union Military Academy in 2012, and he was excellent in his one year playing defensive line. He used his strong performance to earn a scholarship at Youngstown State, and he didn't waste any time making his presence felt. Rivers appeared in 10 games, making 13 total tackles, seven solo, and he had three sacks, flashing the skills that made him the 83rd pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.
In 2014, Rivers exploded and put himself in the national spotlight. He started 11 of 12 games at defensive end, making 31 solo tackles, 19 assisted tackles, 17 tackles for loss, 14 sacks, and 11 hurries. Rivers was named to the 1st team All-Missouri Valley Football Conference, the only player on the Youngstown State roster to be named first team All-MVFC. Rivers built on his excellent sophomore year with a big junior year, finishing the season with 37 solo tackles, 15 assisted tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss, nine sacks, 13 hurries, and one forced fumble. Rivers was named Third-Team All-America by STATS, and was also named First-Team All MVFC. Rivers also set the career sack record with 26, an impressive feat considering he had another full season to play.
Rivers finished off his career in style, totaling 44 solo tackles, 14 assisted tackles, 19.5 tackles for loss, 15 sacks, 21 hurries, and he led the Penguins to the Division I National Championship Game. He was named Second-Team All America by The Associated Press and STATS, and was also named First-Team All-MVFC for the third year in a row. In the title game versus James Madison, Rivers was all over the field, making six tackles, two tackles for loss, and one sack.
Rivers has shown throughout his athletic career that he is not only productive, he's a winner. He helped lead his high school football and basketball team to the championship game, and he did the same thing at Youngstown State, a team that wasn't very good when he arrived. What NFL scouts see, and what drew the Patriots to him was his pure pass rushing ability, something he has shown is entire career. Rivers is going to get to the quarterback in the NFL, and the Patriots think they landed a 2nd Round talent in the third, which is a value win, something they are always looking to pull off. Rivers is very good with is hands, a necessity for an EDGE. It may take Rivers a year to break the starting lineup, but he'll be given every opportunity to contribute as a rookie.
New England was looking to replace the athleticism that Jamie Collins brought to their defense, and the selection of Derek Rivers will definitely help fill that void left by the athletically gifted Collins.
Here are some highlights of Rivers, courtesy of figotinoXD@YouTube.com
Derek Rivers Conference Call, 4/28/17
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