STRENGTHS - While not a big tight end, Rivera has still been a productive side/angle blocker on in-line run blocks. He is quick to get off the ball and fires into inside shaded defender to pin him inside on outside runs. The same quickness off the ball he shows on in-line blocks, helps Rivera to get in routes quickly and to the second level with ease on blocks in space. It looks easy for Rivera to lock on and maintain blocks on linebackers on the second level because he can bend knees to block with good base and has natural balance to keep feet. Experience lining up as an in-line tight end, move H-back, fullback and split out in the slot shows Rivera's versatility and football smarts. Rivera has deceptive speed running routes, is sharp out of his cuts and does an excellent job of getting his head and hands around quickly to catch passes that get on top of him fast. Good body control, coordination and soft hands are what have allowed Rivera to make tough catches seem routine. He is quick to get started up the field after the catch and is a competitive runner who fights for every last yard. Even though he does not break many tackles, he does run through a number of attempted grab tackles and hits to gain yards after contact.
WEAKNESSES - Despite his college production and effort making good side/angle blocks in college, his lack of bulk/weight will hinder his ability to carry this production over in the NFL. Additionally, he has always been less effective blocking head-up defenders and will have even more trouble blocking the bigger and stronger defensive ends in the NFL. "Tweener" is an apt description of Rivera as he lacks the size to be a true in-line tight end and the explosiveness and top end speed to be an impact receiving tight end that is so "in" now. Occasionally, Rivera gets upright when running routes and is much less effective getting in and out of his cuts when he does.
SUMMARY - A good college tight end, Rivera will find it hard to be as productive in the NFL. While I believe that Rivera will have a hard time becoming an impact player in the NFL, I am confident that his receiving skills combined with his ability to block well in space and his positional versatility should allow him to carve out a role as a versatile backup player. If he were to go to a team with an offensive coach who is creative he could be used in a variety of roles to take advantage of his ability make plays catching passes and blocking effectively out in space. When I watch Rivera play I see some similarities to current Texans' backup tight end James Casey and the Broncos Joel Dressen. Overall, I doubt Rivera will be a high draft pick, but somewhere in the fourth or fifth round a team like San Diego, New England or Philadelphia may take a gamble on him as he has many of the tools to be a versatile, contributing team member who can be used like a chess piece and aligned in many different spots. .