There is little doubt that the University of Alabama has been a powerhouse in college football over the past decade. Since Nick Saban’s arrival in 2007, the Crimson Tide have won 132 games and have gotten 67 players drafted in the NFL, including 22 first round selections. A vast majority of these prospects have been on the defensive side or offensive linemen, but there is one skill position that has been developed well in Tuscaloosa. There have been some big-name wide receivers that have been drafted from Alabama including Julio Jones and Amari Cooper, both were first-round selections. Alabama prospect Calvin Ridley looks to live up to those large expectations as he too is projected to be a first-round selection.
Calvin Ridley Stats
Ridley was a three-year starter for Alabama where he lead the team in receptions all three years. His 89 receptions in 2015 were the most in the SEC and 15th overall in the nation. He was always a top target for the group of quarterbacks he played with in college. He showed time and time again that he can be someone to rely on. Ridley will finish his SEC career as a top 20 player in receiving yards, putting him in some elite company. Ridley only lead the team once in receiving touchdowns (2015), but he still made an impact on the Crimson Tide offense. Ridley had success in his last game for the Tide in the 2018 National Championship game, where he caught four passes for 32 yards and one touchdown. He went out on top gaining his second championship in three years for Alabama. While his stats are remarkable, his play on tape is even more impressive.
Over the past weekend, many got to see Ridley compete among his fellow prospects during the rigorous NFL Combine. Ridley officially measured in at 6′ 0 1/2″ and 189 pounds with a 75 3/4″wingspan and 31 5/8″ hands. These numbers are smaller than some of the wide receivers he was competing against, but Ridley made a name for himself in some of the drills he participated in. He ran a 4.43-second unofficial 40-yard dash, placing him in the top six among the wideouts. He also impressed in the three-cone drill where he ran an unofficial 4.41 time, placing him in the top ten of that category. Ridley put his speed on display for the NFL scouts and executives over the weekend. But he did have his fair share of struggles over the weekend. Ridley placed near the bottom in the two jumping drills (vertical and broad jump) and in the 20-yard shuttle. This will likely have some effect on his draft stock but Ridley did exceptionally well in the wide receiver drills. He ran solid routes, showed good footwork in route breakdowns and caught a majority of his passes. His speed and on-field showing will outweigh his bad drill performances in Indy and should leave his overall stock intact.
NFL Draft Projection
Ridley comes into the NFL draft as a speedy receiver with elite route running skills. He has shown in college that he can make plays when given the ball in space. When he gets to the NFL, he will already possess the playmaking ability that will get him a lot of attention at the next level. One major drawback of Ridley is his size and strength. Though he was able to compete with press coverage at Alabama, it remains to be seen how well he would handle it against NFL level coverage. His six foot, 189-pound frame could be bounced around if he is placed against the wrong matchup. Fortunately, Ridley is still young and will have time to grow and develop in this matter. Plus, with his established skill set it will be easy to find other ways to use him effectively.
I see Ridley as a first-round selection in 2018 with the potential of being a top ten pick. Ridley will likely be the first receiver off the board going to a team with a need for a playmaker. His current skill level would make him a solid second wide receiver as a rookie in the right system. He has the upside to become a team’s go-to target in future at this point. With some on-field development and physical growth, he will make the next step and could very well belong in the conversation of great Alabama wide receivers.
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Brandon Sysak is an staff writer for Gridiron Experts. I have been covering different aspects of the NFL, fantasy football and the NFL Draft since 2017. I am originally from Midland, MI but now reside in the Cincinnati, OH area. I began my career with Gridiron Experts covering the 2017 College Football National Championship.