Calvin Ridley, a junior wide receiver out of Alabama, is considered by many to be the top receiver in arguably one of the most exciting groups of receivers of any draft class in recent history. Here’s why so many people think that the Alabama star is the real deal, and what he still needs to work on to be highly successful in the NFL.
One of Ridley’s biggest assets is his speed, showcased in the NFL Combine via a 4.43 second 40-yard dash, which was tied for the 6th best time among the wide receiver group. His ability to fly past defenders has made him a big deep threat throughout his entire college career, averaging 45.1 yards per catch on deep passes. He also runs very crisp routes, and has the ability to maintain speed for the most part throughout the entirety of his route. He also possesses the versatility to work out of the slot and in the short passing game when needed. In three years at Alabama, he was able to rack up 2,775 receiving yards, which is impressive when you factor in how run-heavy the Crimson Tide offense is.
The biggest red flag that Ridley has is his drop rate. Throughout his career at Alabama, he dropped 9.3% of catchable passes, although that percentage for 2017 alone was down to 7.2%, which is still less than ideal. He ranked 111th in the nation last year in drop rate, and his career total had been used, it would have ranked him at 193rd on the season. Another minor red flag is his size. While he was measured at 6’3″ at the Combine, his weigh-in of 189 pounds says a lot about his smaller frame. He’ll need to put on some additional muscle weight if he wants to wrestle with some of the top corners in today’s NFL.
The bottom line is that while there’s always room for improvement, Ridley is almost a sure bet to have success in the NFL. When watching his game tapes, you’ll notice early on that he makes catching the ball look easy, natural, and graceful. While there’s a few red flags, they’re generally fixable with the right coaching, as well as a good strength and conditioning trainer. Ridley is almost guaranteed to be a first round draft pick, very likely taken in the top 20.
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