Calvin Ridley – Wide Reciever
School: University of Alabama
Weight: 190 pounds
Calvin Ridley NFL Draft Profile
University of Alabama wide receiver Calvin Ridley finds himself at the top of most NFL draft boards at the receiver position. He had an extremely productive career over three seasons at Alabama amassing 2,781 yards receiving and 19 touchdowns.
Ridley attended Monarch High School in Coconut Creek, Florida. He only played three games in his senior season due to an age restriction rule in Florida. He was rated as a five-star recruit and was considered by several scouting outlets as the number one receiver in his class.
During his three seasons at Alabama, he played in three National Championship games, winning two of them. In last year’s title game victory, Ridley secured four receptions for 32 yards and a score. He finished with 63 catches for 967 yards and five touchdowns on the season.
Ridley has the ability to have an immediate impact on an NFL roster. He can stretch the field and open things up for the rest of the receiving corps. Will he be the first receiver to hear his name called on draft day?
There is no denying, of the top receivers entering this year’s draft, Ridley is the purest and most gifted route runner. All of his routes are smooth, crisp and ran with purpose. Many receivers today run very sloppy and lazy routes. This is not the case with Ridley.
He has the amazing ability to run full-speed for a 10-yard curl route, stop on a dime, and use his plant foot to lead him back to the ball, creating yards of separation between him and the defender. He is almost uncoverable on third-and-short situations which is extremely attractive to NFL scouts and executives.
When watching the film, many receivers are “thrown open” by the quarterback and then they are able to use their big bodies to haul in receptions. Ridley uses his route running to create separation, and therefore, is open on almost every play.
He can also run any route on the route tree. Whether it be a five-yard out route from the slot, a 10-yard dig from the X, or a deep skinny post, Ridley can do it all, and do it exceptionally well.
Ridley is very reliable catching the football. In his career at Alabama, he had 224 receptions and was a source of comfort for his quarterback in all situations. He was great at hauling in passes at the point of contact, in traffic or wide open down the middle of the field. Sure-handedness is something that can be underrated in receivers but is something that cannot be taught. There is nothing more frustrating than a talented wideout that excels at so many levels but continually drops meaningful passes. Drops in the NFL are going to happen but with Ridley those drops will be few and far between.
Speed and Elusiveness
Ridley may not be the fastest straight-line runner in this year’s draft but he is still a very skillful runner and is faster with the ball is in his hands. He has great stop-and-go speed during the progression of his routes or after the ball is in his hands with the ability to make defenders miss. He also has that breakaway speed that you look for in elite playmakers. If he gets past the safety, which he often does, he’s gone.
After watching tape there is no denying Ridley’s effort in run blocking but his effectiveness just quite isn’t there. He is engaging in his blocking efforts but can’t stay in front of the defender long enough while the play is developing. This was evident on sweep plays run to his side of the field. Against Florida State last season, there were multiple instances where Ridley’s defender made the tackle on the running back, some for little or no gain.
There is something to be said for receivers that take just as much pride in their run blocking as they do in their pass-catching ability. Ridley clearly cares about this part of his game but he will have to continue to improve it if he doesn’t want to be a liability in the rushing attack. It makes it easy on a defense when one side of the field is eliminated in the run game.
At 6’1″, 190 pounds, Ridley is not by any means a small receiver. However, he is not your prototypical number one option on the outside like his counterpart in the draft, Courtland Sutton, who stands at 6’4″, 215 pounds. Ridley’s route running and hands are what separate him and makes his size almost a non-factor.
He may need to bulk up a bit if he expects to be as productive getting jammed at the line of scrimmage by NFL corners. This will also aid him in run blocking. We will see what he weighs in at the combine but I would like to see him in the 200-205 range when he enters training camp.
As the top wide receiver prospect in the 2018 NFL Draft, Ridley is an extremely gifted route runner that dazzles with his cuts and stop-and-go speed. He is effective with every route on the tree and has the elusiveness that you look for in an elite playmaker. He has the hands that allow you to always trust him in any scenario. When the game is on the line, the ball needs to find it’s way to Ridley. Run blocking will need to be improved if he wants to be effective on every single snap.
NFL Player Comparison
Teams With Need At Wide Receiver
Cleveland Browns, Chicago Bears, San Francisco 49ers, Washington Redskins, Baltimore Ravens, Arizona Cardinals
Early First Round – Chicago Bears