Rivers focuses on fast 40
Need for speed key to Rivers’ hopes
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Every NFL team needs dependable possession receivers.
Tomorrow through Tuesday, RCA Dome, Indianapolis, NFL Network, live workouts, Saturday-Tuesday beginning at 6 a.m. Hawaii time
But the speed burners with size are the guys who get the big bonuses on draft day.
Jason Rivers shows the characteristics of a prototypical move-the-chains guy, and will likely be rewarded by being a fourth- or fifth-round selection by an NFL team.
Rivers does have a chance, though, to break away from most of the pack -- by displaying breakaway speed in the 40 at the NFL Combine on Saturday. The magic number for the former Hawaii standout is 4.3. Do that, and he becomes a first-day possibility. Rivers said he's been close in workouts, but hasn't gone under 4.4.
Rivers and UH slotbacks Davone Bess and Ryan Grice-Mullins and quarterback Colt Brennan, along with Colorado linebacker Jordon Dizon (Waimea High) report to Indianapolis this week where they will be evaluated by NFL scouts.
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Jason Rivers has the size, hands, physical toughness and the statistical body of work to get drafted by an NFL team.
But to move up at this week's combine in Indianapolis, Rivers needs to time well in the 40-yard sprint.
If the four-year starter at wide receiver for Hawaii can break 4.4 seconds, he climbs into near-elite status. But he will probably still be a notch below the top five or six draftable receivers, including Malcolm Kelly of Oklahoma, DeSean Jackson of California, Limas Sweed of Texas, Early Doucet of LSU and Mario Manningham of Michigan.
Still, it would separate Rivers from the rest of the pack. It would signify breakaway speed and perhaps allow him to shed the label of possession receiver.
"If he breaks into the 4.3s, that changes things," said Rivers' agent, Leo Goeas. "He's right at the brink, in the low 4.4s."
Rivers, training in Denver, said he's yet to hit the magic number.
"I'm not quite there, but I'm trying," Rivers said, in a phone interview yesterday. "Since the Shrine Game, I've been running and lifting every day. It's cold here, but all our workouts are indoors. I've been working a lot on running mechanics."
Goeas said the plan is for Rivers to focus on the 40 at the combine and do his bench press at UH's Pro Day on April 1.
"The main thing is how he runs," Goeas said.
The 6-foot-2, 190-pound Rivers said he feels he's answered most other questions NFL decision-makers might have about him.
"I just need to do what I do. Catch the ball, run good routes," Rivers said.
Known for initiating contact with defensive backs, Rivers displayed toughness at the Sugar Bowl by coming back into the game after being knocked out by a hit in the first half. He finished with 10 catches for 105 yards in a game Hawaii lost to Georgia 41-10.
Goeas said the St. Louis Rams have shown the most early interest in Rivers.
"I don't really care what team picks me," Rivers said. "The Patriots and Colts are the exceptions, but everyone else in the league throws the ball about the same amount."
Rivers, UH slotbacks Davone Bess and Ryan Grice-Mullins and quarterback Colt Brennan arrive in Indianapolis tomorrow. On Thursday they'll undergo physical exams. On Saturday they get tested in the 40 and other speed, agility and strength tests. Colorado linebacker Jordon Dizon (Waimea High alum) will also be at the combine.
"He's the one (of the Hawaii receivers) who has the most going for him," an NFL scout said of Rivers. "Guys who have watched him enough feel good about him. Even if he runs in the 4.4s, that's good for him and he'll be a mid-round pick."