Riley Ridley 2019 NFL Draft Profile

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Riley Ridley
ATHENS, GA - SEPTEMBER 29: Riley Ridley #8 of the Georgia Bulldogs runs after a catch against the Tennessee Volunteers on September 29, 2018 at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

Overview
Position
: Wide receiver
Height: 6’1″
Weight: 199 pounds
School: Georgia Bulldogs

Combine Performance Data
40-yard dash
: 4.58 seconds
Bench press: 13 reps
Vertical jump: 30.5 inches
Broad jump: 10 feet, 4 inches
Three-cone drill: 7.22 seconds
20-yard shuttle: 4.28 seconds

Riley Ridley 2019 NFL Draft Profile

As one of the top prospects at wide receiver this year, Riley Ridley will almost undoubtedly become the latest member of his family to play in the NFL next season. His brother Calvin Ridley, a first-round pick of the Atlanta Falcons, put together a successful rookie campaign in 2018. Both received heavy interest from big-time collegiate programs. The younger Ridley, rated the fourth-best receiver in the state of Florida by Scout.com, could’ve joined Calvin at Alabama. But he decided to forge his own path and chose Georgia.

Ridley enrolled in January and participated in spring practices with the aim of making an immediate contribution as a true freshman. While his numbers weren’t eye-popping (12 catches, 238 yards, two touchdowns), he showcased big-play potential when he made a one-handed grab against Auburn for a 57-yard gain. He made seven starts a year later but his impact remained limited as he totaled just 218 yards and two scores on 14 catches. But he saved his best performance for last as he caught six balls for 82 yards in the Bulldogs’ narrow loss to Alabama in the national title game.

In 2018, Ridley finally caught on and became the focal point of the UGA passing game. He became quarterback Jake Fromm‘s favorite target with his 590 receiving yards and nine touchdown grabs both leading the team. He formed a rather potent duo with fellow pro prospect Mecole Hardman as they combined for 1,102 yards and 16 touchdowns. Ridley decided that his body of work warranted speeding up the process of embarking on a pro career and declared for the draft with a year of eligibility remaining.

Strengths

  • superb change of direction at route stems;
  • impressive hand-feet-eye coordination aids in his ball-tracking skills;
  • route-running contains nuance that’s hard to predict;
  • a sure-handed prospect who effortlessly plucks the ball out of the air;
  • does a good job using his coverage reading skills to get open;
  • near-perfect timing of his jump when high-pointing the ball;
  • has a nasty stutter-step to fake corners out of their shoes;
  • successfully works the boundaries to come up with back shoulder throws;
  • capable of helping out in run support with downfield blocking;
  • brings intensity and the will to compete on every play.

Weaknesses

  • his frame could use some additional bulk;
  • not the most elusive once the ball’s in his hands;
  • initial burst off the line of scrimmage is underwhelming;
  • straight-line speed isn’t particularly eye-popping;
  • susceptible to jamming from tough, press corners;
  • only 1,015 yards and 13 touchdowns during three-year college career.

NFL Comparison: Allen Hurns

Teams With Need at Position: Baltimore Ravens, Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers, Green Bay Packers, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, New England Patriots, New York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers, Washington Redskins

Projection: Second round

Bottom Line

Ridley is one of those prospects where his stats are a bit deceiving. He split reps with Hardman in 2018 and it conspired to keep his overall production down. It belies the fact that Ridley boasts plenty of traits that suggest he’s ready to contribute early on in his pro career. He’s an incredibly skilled route-runner who knows how to create space for himself. And he’s an incredibly confident catcher of the ball in short, intermediate, and deep parts of the field.

What will likely keep Ridley from coming off the board on day one is the fact that he’s a bit limited when it comes to after the catch prowess. He’s also not particularly incendiary when it comes to generating initial burst as well as raw speed down the field. Too often, he gets engulfed by press coverage and becomes a non-factor. And it must be said that he did not test particularly well at the Combine with his three-cone drill and vertical jump ranking below the 10th percentile.

But the things Ridley excels at gives him among the higher ceilings relative to this year’s receiver prospects. His presence will provide a marked improvement to whichever receiving corps he ends up with. Don’t be surprised if he’s garnering starter reps at some point during his rookie season in the league. And he has the potential to become a regular contributor year after year as a starting number two receiver.

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