As much as Curnutte's word in his blog post wanted us to believe that the Bengals didn't think highly of Keith Rivers, with their first-round pick, the Cincinnati Bengals select... Keith Rivers.
PERSONALY, like I said in the comments, I like this pick. Like many, I don't believe that Rivers seems like a godly play-blowin' up defensive player. What I do believe is that the team drafted a character guy (I hate that term), with leadership qualities and a stabilizing force for the linebackers group as a whole -- if not, the entire defense. We haven't had that guy at linebacker since Odell Thurman's rookie season nor do we have leadership qualities on the defense as a whole.
Again, it might not be sexy, but this pick will give the Bengals stability and leadership on defense for a long time. And we've desperately needed that. Worth it.
For the Team. I think through many discussions, most people believe this to be a safe pick. The Bengals lost several linebackers through free agency -- while Landon Johnson was the only real "loss" -- but signed very middle-of-the-road talent to one-year deals. With two fast bookends, the Bengals have a potential Odell Thurman, Ahmad Brooks and Keith Rivers look on opening day. And if the team goes after a big defensive tackle in the second round, the potential 3-4 make-up seems somewhat possible -- though still highly unlikely.
Marvin Lewis press conference with assistant coaches on drafting Keith Rivers. Main things to point out is that the coaches believe he's a first-year starter that will play at any of the three linebacker spots and be an All-Pro for many seasons in this league.
Here's YouTube video of Rivers.
What does this mean? Rivers will be the team's 12th linebacker -- seven of whom will be free agents after this season. The Bengals would likely play Rivers on weak-side, keep Brooks over the middle while Jeanty is the leading man at strong-side. Thurman is definitely expected to force himself somewhere while Eric Henderson becomes a questionable project. Would they take Henderson back to defensive end and add to the Antwan Odom, Robert Geathers rotation?
Keith Rivers reacts on his blog.
Linebackers coach, Jeff FitzGerald: "He's a face of the franchise."
Here's Keith's reaction.
- Matt at Bengals GAB says of Rivers: "He should and will fit in the Bengals system nicely."
- Who Dey Revolution jests.
- Bengals Stripes says "Can’t hate this pick."
- Mocking the Draft says, "They need more d-line help, but the bottom line is they also need LBers who can tackle (and not get arrested)." Nice. Totally unrelated, Keith Kenton plead not guilty last week.
Scouts, Inc. gives the following analysis of Rivers.
Weaknesses: Plays too high at times and loses his power when he does. Does a great job of sifting through traffic but needs to learn to anchor better when he's forced to take on blocks in the phone booth. Shows a bit of stiffness in his hips. Will struggle to keep with elite pass-catching RB's in the NFL on double moves and when forced to turn and run. Not an established play maker in coverage. Good range in coverage but lacks ideal ball skills. Durability is a minor concern.
Overall: Rivers appeared in 37 games in his first three seasons at USC (2004-'06), recording 162 tackles (13.5 for losses), 5.5 sacks and two interceptions. As a senior in 2007, he played 12 games (11 starts) at weak-side linebacker, turning in 78 tackles (five for losses), three fumble recoveries, a forced fumble and four pass breakups. He missed a game (Arizona State) in 2007 after spraining his left ankle, which had required arthroscopic surgery to remove bone spurs earlier in the spring. He also missed two games in 2005 and was limited in others because of a hamstring strain. Rivers possesses very good but not exceptional overall physical tools. His outstanding combination of instincts, work ethic and experience is what separates him from other linebackers with similar skill sets. While he is the top rated linebacker on our 2008 board, Rivers is a notch below elite talents such as A.J. Hawk (Packers) and Patrick Willis (49ers) from recent NFL drafts. Some teams could consider him at inside linebacker but Rivers seems best suited to play the WILL in a 4-3 scheme. He should be selected in the middle portion of the first round.
This page will continuously be updated with Rivers analysis.