- Name: Calvin Ridley
- College: Alabama
- Position: Wide Receiver
- Height: 6'1"
- Weight: 190 pounds
2017: 63 catches for 967 yards (15.3 average), 5 TDs
2016: 72 catches for 769 yards (10.7 average), 7 TDs
2015: 89 catches for 1045 yards (11.7 average), 7 TDs
Regarded by most as the top wide receiver in the draft, Calvin Ridley follows in the footsteps of Amari Cooper and Julio Jones as the next big play wide receiver out of Alabama. Ridley burst onto the scene his freshman year, helping Bama fans forget about the just departed Cooper by accumulating over 1000 receiving yards and being named a consensus Freshman All American. While his numbers have regressed since his first year on campus, the decline is directly related to sub par quarterback play and the conservative game plan employed by Nick Saban. When given the opportunity, Ridley displays a rare combination of speed, athleticism, and technical skills that will allow him to contribute immediately in the NFL.
As you would expect from the consensus top pick at a position, Ridley has very few holes in his game. He is one of the best route running draft prospects in recent memory, and flawlessly executes every branch of the route tree. Additionally, he shows the ability to diagnose defensive play calls, finding holes in coverage and adjusting his routes accordingly. He is extremely athletic, with a distinctive suddenness that helps him beat defenders in breaks, and make tacklers miss in the open field. In the highlight tape above, you can see Ridley move around defenders easily with quick plants, and turn short catches into big plays. This athletic explosion translates not only to his breaks but to getting downfield where he can run by defensive backs and be a game changer over the top. To top it off, he has above average hands and tracks deep balls well.
The main gripe that comes with Calvin Ridley is his size and lack of physicality. His listed weight reads 190 pounds, but most say he's in the 180s. That is slight for an NFL wide receiver, especially an attuned route runner that will be asked to go over the middle. Additionally he can be re-routed with press coverage and sometimes struggles to get off the line. His elite speed and athleticism masked most of these issues in college, but against more physical corners in the NFL, Ridley will need to add strength to compete.
Overall, Calvin Ridley is the consensus top wide receiver in the draft for a reason. It's possible that other prospects have higher upside, but Ridley is far and away the most polished and will likely make an immediate impact for whichever team drafts him. Because of his skillset, he makes for a near can't miss dynasty pick with a real chance to be a WR2 in year one. He should be on your radar for a middle to late first round selection.