The Bayou Bengals nearly lost out on signing Riley, as they offered him a grayshirt opportunity instead of a full initial scholarship. LSU came through with the scholly late in the process, and Riley signed on with his home-state team. Unfortunately for him, the Tigers' depth at linebacker kept him from playing significant minutes until his senior season. He played 39 games in his first three seasons, making seven tackles as a freshman, 20 tackles as a sophomore (starting one game that year), and then racking up 24 stops while waiting for his turn as a junior. Riley stuck with it, however, as he saw guys like Deion Jones (second-round pick for Atlanta in 2016) become NFL prospects with their patience. He started all 12 games as a senior, leading the squad with 93 tackles, nine for loss, 1.5 sacks and an interception.
Got better as senior season progressed. Instincts and angles improved with more game experience. Had one of his better games against Alabama. Scouts impressed with improved play and consistency. Shows willingness to dart downhill and into the gaps to try and make a play in the backfield. Squares ball carrier in center of his strike zone and fires from hips into the tackle with good wrap up. Shows decent acceleration in his pursuit after diagnosing. Able to open hips and run with long, loose strides in open field. Has clear eyes and processes mesh-point quickly against zone-read and play-action. Gives early response to crossing routes in his area.
Undersized and could have limited position flexibility. Questionable play strength to take on blockers and constrict his gap. Only one season as a starter. Gets in trouble when he sits and waits in the hole. Has to trigger downhill early to overcome limited size and athleticism. Gets caught in the second-level trash in his pursuit. Needs to take better paths to the ball. Not a quick-twitch linebacker. Has build-up speed but lacks short-area quickness to finish from challenging tackle angles. Foot quickness isn't good enough to match up against running backs coming out of backfield.
Sources Tell Us
"I'm glad Phil (Savage) invited him to the Senior Bowl. He really deserves it. I expected nothing from him when the year started but he played really well. He went from undrafted free agent to draftable player." -- Area scout with AFC East team
One-year wonder who produced at a consistent level despite his average athleticism and lack of starting experience. While he's mindful of his responsibilities, he's not overly physical and his limitations could tie him to roles as either a WILB in a 3-4 or WILL in a 4-3. Could improve stock in pre-draft workouts, but would be surprising to see him taken inside of the first three rounds.