Riley finished fifth in the voting for the 2011 Buck Buchanan Award, given to the best defender in the Football Championship Subdivision every year – finishing well ahead of 2012 draft picks Justin Bethel (Presbyterian), Asa Jackson (Cal Poly), Josh Norman (Coastal Carolina), and Trumaine Johnson (Montana). His nine interceptions, along with 75 tackles and two forced fumbles got him All-American accolades, as well as catching the eye of NFL scouts always on the look-out for a small-school safety with potential as a reserve and special teams contributor. Riley proved he belonged right away, playing all 11 games with the Hornets as a true freshman, starting once (38 tackles, one interception, five pass break-ups). Then he got on scouts’ radar by finishing third in the FCS with seven interceptions (along with 63 tackles, six pass break-ups) in 2010, earning first-team All-SWAC honors before taking his game to another level as a junior.
Has a solid overall build and good length for the position. Plays centerfielder well, shows a lot of range to reach either sideline from a single-high look. Has excellent ball skills for safety, snatches throws outside his frame and wins the tip drill. Solid open-field tackler, breaking down and using his length to drag down ballcarriers in space. Willing to stick his nose into piles in run support.
Needs to add strength in the upper body. Not an intimidator downfield. Best when coming straight into tackles and attacking plays downhill, lacks exceptional hip fluidity, might be taken advantage of in man coverage. Poor quarterbacking at the FCS level gives him a lot of easier chances to make interceptions.
Riley’s ball skills have allowed him to take advantage of FCS quarterbacks, intercepting 16 passes over his sophomore and junior seasons. He finished fifth in the voting for the Buck Buchanan Award for the division’s top defender in 2011, and put himself on NFL scouts’ radar as a legitimate late-round prospect as a reserve free safety with special teams potential.
Future Hall of Famer
A once-in-a-generation type prospect who could change how his position is played
An impact player with the ability/intangibles to become a Pro Bowl player. Expect to start immediately except in a unique situation (i.e. behind a veteran starter).
A quality player who will contribute to the team early on and is expected to develop into a starter. A reliable player who brings value to the position.
A prospect with the ability to make team as a backup/role player. Needs to be a special teams contributor at applicable positions. Players in the high range of this category might have long-term potential.
A player with solid measurables, intangibles, college achievements, or a developing skill that warrants an opportunity in an NFL camp. In the right situation, he could earn a place on a 53-man roster, but most likely will be a practice squad player or a camp body.