Stock grows for Youngstown State's Rivers

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(STATS) - The momentum hasn't stopped for Derek Rivers.

The former Youngstown State All-America defensive end helped lead the Penguins to the 2016 FCS national championship game as a senior - a run that few people saw coming.

He's also taken some by surprise since then while rising among prospects for the NFL draft, to be held in Philadelphia from April 27-29.

Many analysts rank Rivers in the Top 100 and landing in the second or third round. The 6-foot-4, 248-pounder could shift to outside linebacker in the NFL.

At Youngstown State, Rivers made the All-Missouri Valley Football Conference first team in each of his final three seasons and was a second-team STATS FCS All-American as a senior. He had 173 career tackles, 56 1/2 tackles for loss, 41 sacks and 48 quarterback hurries.

His scouting report says Rivers "strikes with quick upward punch under tackle's shoulders" and "creates speed-to-power push with a second gear into contract."

"I'd say one of my strengths, as far as pass rushing goes, is my speed," Rivers said at the Senior Bowl. "I love speed rushing and something that counters off of it, I have a pretty good power rush as well. So when you mix it up, pass rushing is all about strategy. So when you beat somebody with speed, you come back with a counter or power, it knocks the offensive linemen off their heels."

Just over two weeks after playing in Youngstown State's loss to James Madison in the FCS national championship on Jan. 7, Rivers enjoyed excellent practices during Senior Bowl week. He posted a sack and a tackle in the game.

He went on to blow up the NFL Combine in early March. Among defensive ends, he was third with a 6.94-second clocking in the 3-cone drill, fourth with a 4.61 run in the 40-yard dash, tied for fourth with 30 reps in the 225-pound bench press and tied for fifth with a 35-inch vertical jump.

With his high motor, he has the ability to create havoc in NFL backfields.