From now until the 2018 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to showcase as many prospects as possible and examine both their strengths and weaknesses. Most of these profiles will feature individuals that the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have an interest in, while a several others will be top-ranked players at their positions. If there is a player you would like us to breakdown and profile in the coming weeks and months, let us know in the comments below.
#3 Calvin Ridley/WR Alabama – 6’0/1 190
– Excellent route runner with a strong ability to create separation
– Has home run hitting speed, but also the elusiveness to play in the slot
– Terrific hands and concentration when receiving the ball
– Has tremendous awareness and does a very good job adjusting to where the ball is thrown
– Reads the defense extremely well
– Does not give up on the play. Finds ways to get open
– Very durable. Never missed a game in college.
– Willing to block, but does have some trouble with more physical corners
– Despite great hands, will drop a ball occasionally
– Not the biggest at 6’0/1, 190 pounds
– Thin body type
– He will be 24 this year
– 2015 season: Played all 15 games for the Crimson Tide. As a freshman, led the team in receptions (89), receiving yards (1,045) and receiving touchdowns (7).
– 2016 season: Played all 15 games. Led the team in receptions with 72. Had 769 receiving yards and 7 receiving touchdowns.
– 2017 season: Played all 14 games. Led the team in receptions (63) and receiving yards (967). Also had 5 receiving touchdowns.
– Second in Alabama history in receptions (224) and receiving touchdowns (19) behind only Amari Cooper. Third in receiving yards with 2,781. Made the Sporting News and SEC All-Freshmen Teams in 2015. Was second team All-SEC in 2015 and 2016. First team in 2017. Preseason All-American in 2017.
Ridley is the best wide receiver prospect in the 2018 draft class. His speed, route running, awareness, body control, hands and athleticism will make him a coveted prospect come April. He does so many things right, but his route running has to be at the top of the list. He was one of the best route runners in college football this past season. He has incredible elusiveness that allows him to make quick, hard cuts. In his college career, he punished teams that covered him one on one. His speed is a gift, but his ability to cut and fool defenders is his biggest asset:
Ridley is also extremely skilled at getting open when the quarterback is struggling to find a receiver. His recognition skills are displayed below as he realizes that his quarterback is still looking for a guy to throw to and he gets open at the very last second. This play also shows how great his hands are. It is difficult to see; the ball is thrown a bit high, but Ridley uses his long arms to reach and snag the ball out of the air.
The same awareness is shown here:
Ridley’s explosiveness and speed does not have to be used solely for the deep ball. He accelerates to full speed so quickly which makes him a threat on end-arounds and screen passes. Even if defenders are collapsing on him, he uses his speed to get as many yards as possible.
Ridley is not afraid to block in the running game, but from what I saw, he struggled when blocking bigger defenders. Below, he attempts to block Florida State cornerback Tarvarus McFadden who has 20 pounds on Ridley. McFadden breaks Ridley’s blocks easily both times without much trouble. In the second gif, he does a good job of baiting McFadden into thinking that he is running a route, but once Ridley makes contact with him to block, he sheds it easily.
Projection: Mid-first round
Games Watched: Florida State (2017), Mississippi State (2017), Clemson (2017), Ole Miss (2016), Kentucky (2016)
|Previous 2018 NFL Draft Player Profiles|
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