Top Patriots draft pick Derek Rivers happy to learn from Trey Flowers

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots' organized team activity had concluded on Tuesday, but off in the distance, two players remained behind for some extra work.

The snapshot of third-year defensive end Trey Flowers working on pass-rush technique with top draft choice Derek Rivers (third round, No. 83 overall) was telling for multiple reasons. First, Flowers continues to relentlessly work at his craft despite a breakout season in 2016 with 7.5 sacks. At the same time, he is taking Rivers under his wing.

Rivers, for his part, is most appreciative of it.

“His technique, he’s one of the best,” he said. “I just watch him on film and he’s awesome. An awesome dude, nice guy, definitely somebody I can go to and ask questions.

“I watch everything, how he defends the run, just how precise his hands are, how accurate they are in the pass rush, how he gets his hips around -- every little thing that helps you get to the QB or make plays.”

Rivers set a Youngstown State record with 41 sacks, as his pass-rushing skills were a top asset that made him a higher-rated prospect in this year’s draft. Like most rookies in spring practices, he’s been working mostly with the second and third units on defense, although he showed up Tuesday in punt coverage drills with some of the club’s top special-teams players.

Rivers said having players like Flowers, Malcom Brown, Dont’a Hightower and Co., on defense has lessened the burden on him.

“They’re there helping,” he noted. “They are an awesome group of vets. It’s an awesome team. I’ve had an awesome spring [experience] so far.”

Flowers, who hardly played as a rookie in 2015 but quickly emerged last year, is happy to lend a hand.

“A lot of guys can be leaders, I’m just one of the guys that works hard and if I can help out here and there, I can help,” he said. “I’m one of the guys who have been in the scheme a little longer, so if they have questions, I can help them out.”