Scouting, and recruiting is an inexact science at best. All too often players with big-time skill sets slip through the cracks and wind up “coming out of nowhere”.
The New York Giants’ own Victor Cruz was an undrafted free agent who just barely stayed at UMass, while the Arizona Cardinals’ David Johnson came from Northern Iowa and the FCS division of college football. The trick is identifying those smaller school prospects with skills that belong on the big stage. This year “that guy” could be Youngstown State’s Derek Rivers.
Height - 6 feet, 4 inches
Weight - 250
40 Time - 4.79 (projected)
- Tenacious, relentless player. Wide-open motor that never seems to take a play off or give up.
- Explosive first step. Often the first player moving after the ball is snapped.
- Good size and length to play in a two or three point stance.
- Can hold up at the point of attack in the run game.
- Natural pass rusher, seems to have an innate feel for beating his blocker and getting into the backfield.
- Great bend. Compact, coiled stance, and can turn a very tight corner around the edge
- Disruptive rusher, who forces teams to double team him or play away from him.
- Good hand usage, and has a rip, arm-over, or inside move to beat blockers quickly.
- Plays with good leverage, keeps his pads down.
- Played against a lower level of competition.
- Needs to get stronger. Rivers is tough for blockers to handle, but if they latch on, he struggles to disengage. He could also use a stronger bull rush
- “Tweener” size might be viewed by some teams as a handicap if he doesn’t fit positional size requirements.
- Might not be able to add size or strength without compromising his athleticism.
Does He Fit With The Giants?
Even if the Giants re-sign both Jason Pierre-Paul and Johnathan Hankins, Rivers would still fit. They have big, powerful players all across their front, but the Giants lack an explosive speed rusher who can fire off the ball and get pressure quickly. Rivers’ explosive first step, knack for timing the snap, bend, and hand usage would help give the Giants the quick pressure they lacked in 2016. As well, his ability to rush from a two- or three-point stance would play well with the Giants’ “multiple” defensive scheme.
Big Board Rankings
Big Blue View - N/A
Mocking The Draft - N/A
CBS Sports - 93rd
Draft Countdown - Not In Top 100
Draft Tek - 137th
Every year there are players of whom the public at large are unaware but quietly intrigued the scouting community at the start of the season. After the season, as media scouts begin to go back over some of the tape from smaller schools or see players at post-season All-Star games, these names start to emerge.
Just like David Johnson and Ali Marpet in years past, Derek Rivers came out of a small school that is hardly known as a factory of NFL talent. But also like those players, he has an NFL skillset and traits that transcend his level of competition, which he put on display at the Senior Bowl and (reportedly) improved his draft stock.
I think he could be an intriguing fit with the Giants’ defense. But I also think that -- much like Marpet and Johnson -- if the Giants want him, casual observers are going to be shocked at how high they would have to draft him.