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Scouting Derek Rivers: Small school, big talent, high ceiling

Derek Rivers may be from a small school but that doesn’t mean he can’t help the Bengals as soon as his rookie season begins.

Rivers has a lot of potential but there are questions about how he can do against NFL talent

Something the Cincinnati Bengals are badly missing in their defensive end position is athleticism. Well, I present you the answer to that need with Youngstown State defensive end Derek Rivers. Rivers is dynamic pass rushing talent, but his game is a little raw coming from such a small school. Still, he is exactly the type of pass rusher the Bengals need with his unique ability to quickly threaten the edge and have an impact on the quarterback.

Position: Defensive end

School: Youngstown State

Height: 6’4”

Weight: 248 pounds

Arm Length: 32 3/4”

Hands: 9 3/8”

40-yard dash: 4.61 seconds

Bench press: 30 reps

Vertical jump: 35”

Broad jump: 10’3”

20-yard shuttle: 4.4 seconds

3-cone drill: 6.94 seconds

Derek Rivers College Stats

2013 10 0 13 4.5 3 0
2014 12 11 50 17 14 1
2015 11 10 52 15.5 9 1
2016 16 16 58 19.5 15 1

In 2016, he played 75 pass rushing snaps, all of which came on the left side, and Pro Football Focus graded him with a 15.7 Pass Rushing Productivity score. Here’s how the service explains that “Signature Stat”.

The single most referenced Signature Stat for the defensive side of the ball is our ‘Pass Rushing Productivity’ that calculates a score to reflect the frequency of pressure generated by a defender. All sacks, hits, and hurries are added up and (with sacks weighted heavier and some multipliers in place to give us a workable PRP score) they’re broken down on a per-pass-rushing-snap basis. This stat is presented for all defensive positions, so you can check in on the blitzing DBs and linebackers when you are done sorting through the game’s best edge rushers. Speaking of those typical edge rushers (4-3 DEs and 3-4 OLBs), we’ve taken their numbers apart even further, showing the damage they’ve done (or not done) from the left and right sides.

For comparison, Derek Barnett had a 16.8 PRP in 2016 and Myles Garrett, the assumed No. 1 overall pick, had a 13.5 PRP. Though, when just considering left side PRP, which is all that's relevant for Rivers, who only took pass rushing snaps only on the left side, Garrett had a 37.5 score. Rivers also excels against the run and had one of Pro Football Focus' highest scored stop percentages among all defensive ends (12.5%), which ranked third behind just Toledo's John Stepec and Alabama's Tim Williams.

Rivers should be available in the second round and he would be one of my favorite defensive ends for the Bengals to go after early in the draft. He will need to bulk up pretty quickly to play in the Bengals’ 4-3 defense, but regardless, he can still make an impact in his rookie year. In year one, he could serve as a pass rush specialist for the Bengals and hopefully grow into an every down starter in year two and beyond.