The New England Patriots finally made their first draft selection of 2017 taking defensive end Derek Rivers with the 83rd overall pick.
Rivers first became a starter during his sophomore season in 2014, where he posted a team-best 17 tackles for loss and 14 sacks to win First Team All-MVFC honors.
He would then earn First Team All-MVFC honors once again as a junior and as a senior as well as being named Second Team FCS All-American.
The hard work and dedication translated to the draft process as Rivers was one of the top performers among defensive ends at this year’s NFL Combine posting a 4.61 40-yard time and his 30 reps at the 225 pound bench pressed tied him with top pick Solomon Thomas who weighs 30 pounds more than Rivers.
The Patriots had a gaping hole at that position with the losses of Jabal Sheard to the Colts and Chris Long to the Eagles. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is very confident that he can fill the void and be a key part of the defensive line after being in a system run by coach Bo Pelini.
“(He) played competitively in the all-star games and in a good program there with Coach (Bo) Pelini, who we know very well,” Belichick told Nesn. “Bo does a great job with his players and his team. Derek’s been in a good system, has been well-coached. Even though he’s from a smaller school we’ll see what he can do for himself here, as well, when all is said and done.”
While translating talents to the NFL is difficult, but Belichick is optimistic that because Rivers spent time in a great football program, his talents could transition very well into the NFL.
“He’s been well-coached, and sure, it’s a big adjustment for him or anybody else moving to the National Football League,” Belichick said. “I think he’s been in a solid program. We’ll see how it goes.”