From now until the 2019 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 few others will be top-ranked players. If there is a player you would like us to analyze, let us know in the comments below.
#8 Riley Ridley/WR Georgia – 6’2 200
– NFL frame and length, prototypical size for a receiver
– Long strider helps make him a vertical threat, good deep speed
– Excellent body control and ability to make tough, contested catches along the sideline
– Shows suddenness as a route runner, sinks his hips and creates space at the top of his route on breaking concepts
– Able to beat press coverage, sets up defender well to win off the line
– YAC threat, size and balance makes him tough to tackle in the open field, fights hard for extra yards, good effort player
– Good hands who plucks away from his body, natural catcher
– Very willing blocker who shows want-to, asked to do plenty of it in Georgia’s run-first offense
– Some versatility, played snaps in the slot
– Ran relatively varied route tree, wasn’t limited to just deep routes
– Very little college production and limited starting experience, never even had a 90 yard game at Georgia
– Will occasionally lose focus and drop easy catches
– Could do better job of stacking corners at the top of his route to win vertical
– Doesn’t have any return value, didn’t do it in school
– 19 career starts, declared as a true junior
– Career: 69 receptions, 1015 yards (14.7 YPC) 13 TDs
– 2018: 43 receptions, 559 yards, 9 TDs
– College game-highs are six receptions and 89 yards, only four games over 70 yards
– Only 26 receptions before junior season
– Four star prospect, caught 25 passes senior year of high school
– First name is “Cavin,” goes by Riley, younger brother of Calvin Ridley
There isn’t a ton of tape on Ridley in the sense his production was so limited. But when the Bulldogs did feed him the football, it more often than not resulted in something good happening. Ridley is the classic height/weight/speed guy who can make plays vertically. Able to make impressive, concentrating sideline catches, like these two in one of the best games of his career against Missouri in 2018.
He’s a YAC threat too. Not just for his speed but his size and ability to fight for yards. One of the most impressive plays on bowl season, somehow staying off the ground to turn this short reception into a big gainer.
But there are plenty of tall guys who can win deep. Those guys are dime a dozen if we’re being honest. What makes Ridley really interesting is his ability to separate. Impressive quickness and ability to sink and snap out of his underneath routes. Couple examples.
Watch him in the slot break down against Greedy Williams, who you know is my favorite corner in this year’s draft.
And again, bottom of the screen, vs Texas, to convert on 3rd and 6.
Negatives were tough to find. For the analytical crowd, the lack of production – market share – will be a monster red flag. It’s true there aren’t many receivers with NFL success who did so little in college. Look at it this way: even if you include his senior year of high school, he hasn’t caught 100 passes over the last four years. It makes the evaluation harder and again, history is working against him. Wish he would’ve gotten in other ways. At least in the kick return game. But no dice.
Still, to me, a big, strong, fast receiver who can run routes like someone 5’11 190 is an intriguing combination. If you believe he has a solid work ethic and can pair him with a veteran receivers coach, you have a guy who should have a much better professional career than collegiate. Even if that bar is relatively low.
Projection: Mid Day Two
Games Watched: at Missouri, at LSU, at Kentucky, vs Texas (2019 Bowl Game)