The Patriots selected Youngstown State DE Derek Rivers with their first pick in the draft. (Trevor Ruszkowski/USA Today Sports)
FOXBORO — With their first pick of the 2017 NFL draft, coming at No. 83 overall, the Patriots selected defensive end Derek Rivers from FCS Youngstown State.
Playing at a small school, it’s likely his meeting with Bill Belichick had a lot to do with the Patriots drafting him.
Speaking on a conference call after being drafted, Rivers said he enjoyed the meeting and is looking forward to learning a lot from the coach.
“It was awesome, man,” Rivers said. “I mean, we talked ball. I love Coach Belichick. I love everything he is and what he stands for and how he coaches, his demeanor. I mean, he’s an awesome dude, man. I could learn a lot from him.”
His Youngstown State team lost in the FCS National Championship game to James Madison, but his play spoke for itself, earning him a trip to the Senior Bowl.
Rivers was a two-time All-American and three-time first-team All-Missouri Valley Football Conference selection. He finished career with 173 career tackles (119 solo), 56.5 tackles for loss, 37.5 sacks, 47 QB pressures, three forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries and one pass defensed in 49 games.
He also recorded 41 career sacks, which were a school record and rank top five in FCS history.
“I’m a hard worker,” Rivers said. “You get work ethic out of me. I do whatever the coaches want me to do, and that’s the type of guy I am.”
The defensive end could find a role right away as the team needs a fourth piece in its rotation at defensive end along with Trey Flowers, Kony Ealy and Rob Ninkovich.
“Man, it’s awesome,” he said. “It’s awesome. I’m super excited. I mean, there’s just so much I can learn from those guys that were there, as far as just the commitment that those guys have, the type of coaching that’s in that locker room. I’m just ready to learn from those guys and get better with those guys.”