Calvin Ridley – Baltimore Bound?
Perhaps the best wide receiver available in the 2018 NFL Draft Class, Calvin Ridley is a widely sought after prospect. The Alabama product is projected to be selected in the first round, a much-deserved spot. Ridley, during his three years at Alabama, was the Crimson Tide’s best receiver, hauling in over 2,781 receiving yards, and 19 touchdowns. His accomplishments came in a system that would normally prohibit such feats for a wide receiver. During 2016, and 2017 seasons, Jalen Hurts started quarterback for the Crimson Tide. Hurts is a fine, quarterback, but caters much more to the run game, than the passing game. The average receiver would not be able to flourish with such a quarterback, but Ridley did. In 2016 Ridley amassed 769 yards and seven touchdowns, and in 2017, 967 yards with five touchdowns.
What Makes Calvin Ridley so Great
Calvin Ridley is by far the most developed wide receiver in this year’s class. When watching his tape, one quality stuck out more than any other. Calvin Ridley is a playmaker. More than any other receiver in this class, and perhaps more than any receiver on the Ravens’ roster, Calvin Ridley has the ability to make plays happen. He uses his elite speed to maneuver the gridiron, with excellent run routes. He is elusive and shifty, able to create just enough separation to alleviate difficulties from the quarterback. His quick attributes also allow him to escape would be tacklers, before they can even touch him. Aside from opening slight windows, Ridley often finds himself wide open, even against solid defenses. There is no other wide receiver in the draft, who has this ability to the magnitude Ridley does.
Naturally, these skills make him quite the deep threat. For an offense that preferred to run the ball, he caught a large number of deep passes. When Ridley doesn’t escape coverage, he’s able to make unbelievable catches. His catching abilities rival talented NFL receivers. Ridley catches nearly everything that comes his way. When hit, Ridley rarely drops the ball, as he usually secures it before going down. He’s not afraid of going vertical either and often can toe tap near the sideline, with both feet, to stay in bounds. Finally, Ridley is underrated as a blocker. Ridley was able to block for a multitude of running backs. He held the blocks well and often could be seen keeping the blocks until the end of the play.
The Concerns with the Top Rated Wide Receiver
The number one issue with Calvin Ridley is his size. He’s not undersized, per se, he’s just thin. Ridley stands at 6’0”, but only weighs 189 lbs. This could become an issue when big-bodied NFL defenders inevitably hit Ridley. Although he is undersized, he uses his stature to his benefit. It helps him to elude defensive backs, and he can control his body very well. This is especially important when going vertical to make a catch. Aside from his size, Ridley has one other main debility. He’s not going to rack up yards after contact. Ridley can run after the catch well with his speed and elusiveness, but he can’t escape contact. Once a tackler initiates contact, Ridley is going down. He just does not have the strength, with his build, necessary to push through tacklers. Fortunately, for Ridley, his many strengths vastly outweigh his few weaknesses.
Calvin Ridley is the best wide receiver in the draft this year, and to draft him in the first round would be the perfect scenario based on his value. However, there is a growing movement to discount Ridley based on his lackluster combine performance. Many analysts are now pushing his value down from the beginning of the first round to the end. Some even suggest that receivers like Maryland’s D.J. Moore, and Texas A&M’s Christian Kirk, are better. I wholeheartedly disagree with this notion, as Ridley’s tape speaks for itself. Ultimately, Ridley is the best receiver in this draft, by a huge margin. He not only has elite speed, but he can make amazing catches. The Ravens have always had trouble finding receivers with both of these important abilities. Now, however, he may just be the player that breaks that narrative.
When rating Calvin Ridley, I gave him an 8.5/10.0 prospect rating, the highest of any wide receiver in this draft class. Ridley is a first-round receiver, whose talent will make him a starter on any NFL team. I believe that Ridley will have a very successful career in the NFL, and could be the answer to the Ravens current wide receiver predicament. He is going to be a highly sought-after prospect, but the consensus is changing about him. Teams may foolishly overvalue his combine performance, and pass on him in the early first round. If this happens, Ridley would fall right into the Ravens’ lap, and it will be up to Ozzie Newsome to scoop him up. Ultimately, Ridley is an electrifying football player, whose speed and catching abilities are unmatched in the draft. He would be a perfect fit for the Baltimore Ravens.