Why Patriots Draft Pick Derek Rivers Already ‘Loves’ Bill Belichick

FOXBORO, Mass. — New England Patriots 83rd overall pick Derek Rivers had a lot to say about his new head coach, Bill Belichick. Belichick didn’t go into quite so much detail about his team’s top pick in the 2017 NFL Draft in his news conference, however.

“(He) played competitively in the all-star games and in a good program there with Coach (Bo) Pelini, who we know very well,” Belichick said Friday night. “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.”

Belichick noted Rivers primarily played defensive end at Youngstown State and didn’t know if the third-round pick could stand up and play linebacker in 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 about the FCS product. “I think he’s been in a solid program. We’ll see how it goes.”

The Patriots hosted Rivers on a pre-draft visit at Gillette Stadium. Clearly Rivers’ meeting with Belichick went well.

“It was awesome,” Rivers said on a conference call Friday night. “I love Coach Belichick. I love everything that he is and what he stands for and how he coaches, his demeanor. He’s an awesome dude, and I can learn a lot from him.”

Rivers, at 248 pounds, is undersized for a Patriots defensive end. He was confident when asked on his conference call if he could put on weight at the NFL. He does have some experience playing linebacker in high school if the Patriots have plans to move him around their front seven. Rivers also said he stood up and rushed off the edge in college at Youngstown State.

Rivers is an elite athlete, running a sub-7-second 3-cone at the NFL Scouting Combine with a 4.61-second 40-yard dash. He fits the Patriots’ ideal testing measurables as both a defensive end and linebacker.

Thumbnail photo via Trevor Ruszkowski/USA TODAY Sports Images

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