Rookie Scouting Report: Wide Receiver Riley Ridley
Riley Ridley, Georgia
Weight: 199 pounds
40-yard dash: 4.58 seconds
Vertical Jump: 30.5 inches
Broad Jump: 124 inches
3-Cone Drill: 7.22 seconds
Ridley is the younger brother of Calvin Ridley, current star wide receiver for the Atlanta Falcons. Like his brother, Ridley didn’t test very well at the NFL Combine, though it’s important to note that Calvin did impress in the 40-yard dash (4.43 seconds) while Riley did not (4.58 seconds). He’s known as one of the better route runners in this draft class, but is that enough with his athletic limitations?
Production was hard to come by for Ridley while at Georgia, as he tallied just 456 yards and four touchdowns in his first two seasons combined, then just 43 receptions for 559 yards in 14 games during the 2018 season. He did score nine touchdowns on those 43 receptions, so it wasn’t all bad, but because of the lack of production, tape matters all that much more to someone like Ridley. I was the first one to stand up for his brother last year despite the lackluster production and Combine measurables, but can I do the same for Riley?
Size/Versatility: 1.5 out of 5 stars
He’s got decent height and plays up to it, but he’s got an extremely thin frame that won’t bully any defenders on the next level. He played almost exclusively at RWR for the Bulldogs, so it’s a bit worrisome for his transition to the NFL, as most pro-ready receivers are able to move around the field. Because of that, his versatility takes a hit, as he’ll be limited in his contributions right away, unless he goes to a team that has a vacancy on the perimeter and doesn’t rotate receivers very much.
Route Running/Ability to Separate: 4.0 out of 5 stars
He has great 90-degree cutting ability on in/out routes and can stop on a dime. He sells his routes very well with head direction and overexaggerating his movements, so combining that with his cutting ability means he’ll gain separation. The issue is that cornerbacks don’t have to respect his speed over the top, so can play on top of him right on the line of scrimmage, and it’s not as if he’s the biggest receiver. If there’s one plus to his speed, it’s that he alters his speed throughout his route to create more separation, though this does take place down the field. He needs some time for his route to develop because of that, so he’s unlikely to play a possession role in an offense and he’s not fast enough to stretch the field, so you start searching for roles. If a defender is not in press coverage, he will create a big throwing window for his quarterback on a timed route, as his stop/start ability won’t be matched by most cornerbacks. If this score was on strictly route running, he’d get a 4.5 score.
Speed: 2.0 out of 5 stars
His lack of speed is apparent on the field, as I continually watched cornerbacks roll back or side-step while staying stride-for-stride with him. He doesn’t have initial burst to get over the top of the defender when playing press coverage, either. He does alter his speed once he gets into his route to create separation, which means he understands his limitations, so he tries to mask them. If he had a bit more speed, it’d really help his overall ceiling, but instead, it limits it.
Hands: 3.0 out of 5 stars
He’ll let the ball come into his body at times, which allows defenders even more time to come in and try to break-up the pass. When he catches the ball with his hands, he looks like a natural, so I’d like to see him do this a bit more consistently. I do think there’s something to wide receivers suffering more drops when they don’t continually see the ball in a game, so some of his drops can be attributed to that. He did seem to clean up his drops a bit during his final season at Georgia. His hands aren’t an issue but his consistency could be better.
Awareness: 3.5 out of 5 stars
He twist and turns in the air to haul in a pass, highlighting his ability to rotate his body when the ball is coming into his vicinity. He also high-points the ball well, though as evidenced by his Combine measurement, he doesn’t have the biggest catch radius. Still, he makes the most of what he’s got. He’s also good at reading the defender once he gets into his route, particularly in zone coverage, as he knows how to get him to turn his hips, only to cut and sit down in the route.
After the Catch: 2.0 out of 5 stars
His stop/start ability shows up after the catch, as he’s able to juke defenders in the open field. He’s rarely going to break a tackle in the NFL, so he’s going to need to catch the ball in space to do damage after the catch. He’s someone who’ll dive for yardage instead of trying to fight through a tackle at times, killing his score in this department, as it’s not often he’s going to get a chance to run in the open field.
Potential Landing Spot
I don’t see Ridley as someone who’s ever going to be the No. 1 option in an offense, but he can play a role in the NFL due to his rock-solid route running. The Dolphins, Giants, Jets, 49ers, and Seahawks all make sense, with my favorite fit being the Giants. They have Sterling Shepard, Golden Tate, and even Evan Engram fighting for slot snaps, so Ridley wouldn’t be asked to play anywhere but the perimeter. We know they’re a rebuilding team – despite what they’re saying – so they can afford to take a player who hasn’t fully blossomed.
This comparison is tough for me because I’m usually very high on route runners, though Ridley’s play speed worries me. Because of that, I’ll compare him to Keelan Cole, a player who flashed at times in the league, but ultimately became a depth chart wide receiver. While I think he’s more than a backup, there are certainly some limitations to his game, just like Ridley’s.