Scouting Profile: Wide Receiver Calvin Ridley

by Mike Tagliere | @MikeTagliereNFL | Featured Writer
Mar 26, 2018

Alabama’s Calvin Ridley is among the safest wide receiver prospects in the NFL Draft

Calvin Ridley, Alabama

Height: 6’0″
Weight: 189 pounds
40-yard dash: 4.43 seconds
Vertical: 31 inches
Broad Jump: 9’2″

Seemingly now one of the most debatable players in the draft class, Ridley is as high as the No. 1 wide receiver on some boards, while others have moved him out of their top-five due to poor measurables at the NFL Combine. He’s not the prototypical big-bodied No. 1 wide receiver that some are attracted to, but if you’re looking for someone who is ready to walk into a starting role, Ridley is about as pro-ready as they come. He kind of needs to be, as he’s one of the older wide receives in the draft, turning 24 years old later this year.

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His lack of elite numbers in college come down to a few things. One being the fact that Alabama goes with a run-heavy, elite defense approach to their gameplans, limiting the pass attempts to just 18 per game in 2017. On top of that, his quarterback Jalen Hurts isn’t someone you’d describe as very talented. Despite these factors going against him, Ridley did post 2,781 yards and 19 touchdowns over his three years at Alabama.

Size/Versatility: 3.5 out of 5 stars
If there’s one area you can knock Ridley, it’s that he’s not build like many of the No. 1 receivers in the game. It’s really hard to grade size because a player’s size all comes down to the type of player they are, which is why we included versatility in this category. Ridley isn’t someone who is going to jump over a defender to snag a ball out of mid-air and he’s not someone who is going to bully a defensive back after the catch, but he is someone who can line up all over the field. His size could hurt him against some of the more physical perimeter cornerbacks in the league, but it’s not as if he’s 5-foot-9 or anything. His ability to line up in the slot gives teams a lot of versatility in how they put together a gameplan.

Route Running/Ability to Separate: 5.0 out of 5 stars
Whatever Ridley lacks in size, he makes up for with his route-running. He’s a defensive back’s worst nightmare because of the stop-and-go ability he has. Once Ridley plants his foot into the ground, he’s at a dead stop almost immediately. He loses no virtually no speed while changing his course of direction and shows different gears in speed to deceive defensive backs. Another reason he’s considered NFL-ready is because he can run every route on the route tree, something that’s considered rare for prospects. His footwork has this jab-step to set up a slant route, only to step over and head up the sideline, while defensive backs get tripped up rather easily. If you back him off the line of scrimmage and allow him to get a step or two before coming into contact with the cornerback, press coverage won’t matter.

Speed: 5.0 out of 5 stars
Another area where Ridley shines, as the knocks at the Combine had nothing to do with his low-4.4-second speed. Combining that speed with his route-running, you can see how Ridley continually got separation in his routes. It’s also important to keep in mind that while playing at Alabama, he played some of the best competition in the nation. The ability to stop on a dime leaves defenders in a quandary, because they have to respect his speed with a cushion, but also be mindful that he may stop. It’s the reason you’ll see defenders fall multiple yards behind him in coverage. His speed shows up on every level of the field.

Hands: 4.0 out of 5 stars
A natural hands catcher who did well considering the inconsistency of targets that came his way. Snags the ball out of the air and immediately puts it into his body. There were a few plays where he simply dropped the ball, though something can be said about the inconsistency of targets that he gets, as well as the inconsistency of the accuracy of those targets. Think of it like a hitter coming off the bench in baseball – he may not be warmed up and in the same rhythm a starter is in. What you want to watch for is the fundamentals in his hands when the ball is coming in, and there are no issues in his approach. Ridley’s hands aren’t something that will hold him back, that’s the bottom line.

Awareness: 5.0 out of 5 stars
Another highlight of his game as Ridley can read a zone defense extremely well, knowing where to sit down in coverage. He’s also very aware of defenders in his vicinity, which is why you see him quickly tucking the ball away into his body when he feels a defender close. One of the areas we must look at in the awareness category is a receiver’s improvisational skills, and Ridley put his on display during the national championship game against Georgia when he scored a touchdown because he didn’t give up moving towards the ball when the first-read failed.

After the Catch: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Knowing that Ridley isn’t built like Brandon Marshall, it’s unlikely he’s going to break a whole lot of tackles, but he really shouldn’t have to. He’s extremely elusive in the open-field, as his ability to change direction without losing any speed make it seem effortless to him. He’s going to be a difficult guy to land a big hit on, unless his quarterback puts him in an impossible spot to avoid it.

Potential Landing Spot
Prior to free agency, the Bears were the team that made the most sense to land Ridley, but after landing Allen Robinson, Trey Burton, and Taylor Gabriel, it seems very unlikely. The Ravens, on the other hand, they took a big swing and missed during free agency. Even if they end up landing Michael Crabtree, they have a huge need at wide receiver. After years of missed draft picks on early-round receivers for the Ravens, Ridley is about as safe as they come as a prospect. Should he fall past the Ravens, the Seahawks and Cowboys should be interested.

NFL Comparison
Well, here goes nothing. While watching Ridley play, I’m reminded of both Antonio Brown and Stefon Diggs. This is not to say that he’ll be one of the best wide receivers of all-time, but it’s the type of player he is. Someone who will beat you with quick, precise route-running on a consistent basis at every level of the field. Brown and Diggs can both change direction without losing much speed and have tremendous vision in the open-field, though Brown is one of the best in the game. Neither will jump over a defender, but you don’t hear any complaints about them, right? If you want to criticize Ridley’s measurables, you might want to take a look at Brown’s before doing that. Trust your eyes when watching Ridley play the game of football.

Don’t miss the other Scouting Profiles on top prospects below:
Saquon Barkley (RB – Penn State)
Derrius Guice (RB – LSU)
Ronald Jones (RB – USC)
Sony Michel (RB – Georgia)
Nick Chubb (RB – Georgia)
Royce Freeman (RB – Oregon)
Rashaad Penny (RB – San Diego State)
Kerryon Johnson (RB – Auburn)
John Kelly (RB – Tennessee)
Kalen Ballage (RB – Arizona State)

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Mike Tagliere is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Mike, check out his archive and follow him @MikeTagliereNFL.

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