By: Willie Lovato
- Excellent route-runner
- Creates separation
- Explosive off the line of scrimmage
- Set's up defenders for failure
- Elusive in the open-field
Excellent route-runner- This is easily Ridley's best trait. He wastes no movement when running his routes and is as consistent in his effort on every play.
Set's up defenders for failure- This can be tied into his intelligence as a route-runner. Perhaps his biggest reason for success in terms of route-running is what he does to defenders before attacking his route. He uses great head and body movement to set up a defenders before embarrassing them. Ridley forces defenders to guess which way he is going to break, and they often are left behind after making the wrong choice.
Creates separation - The two traits listed above more often than not result in separation, and lots of it. Being able to consistently create separation from defenders will translate to the NFL immediately.
Vertical threat/Speed - A savvy route runner with speed to take the top off the defense can give any defense headaches. Give Ridley too much space to work with and he'll carve you up with his route running. Let him get a step on you and his 4.43 speed will have him dancing in the endzone before you can catch him.
- Athletic testing
- Ability to beat press-coverage
Athletic testing - The NFL Combine soured a lot of people on Ridley's chances of being successful on the next level. The SPARQ Rating is a scoring system designed to measure sport-specific athleticism. The results from various tests in each of the areas of speed, power, agility, reaction and quickness are combined and weighted using a sport specific formula. His 99 rating places him among the 7th percentile according to Player Profiler. Although Ridley beats defenders with his sound route running and speed, both of which were shown off at the NFL Combine and more importantly the numerous hours of Alabama game-tape, the testing can't be ignored. His testing doesn't prove he can't find success, but it certainly does poss cause-to-pause when we start talking about upside.
Age - Entering the league at 23 years old is not ideal for a rookie. Just for comparison, Ridley is older than Corey Davis and just months younger than John Ross and Mike Williams, all of which were drafted in the first round of last years draft. Just like his testing however, I don't have an issue with his age. His skill set will imediatley transfer to the NFL unlike a younger guy that needs to improve certain aspects of his game to make it on the field. He may be older than the average receiver entering the league but he is also closer to a finished product than that receiver.
Ability to beat press-coverage - His below average testing will only bolster the concern surrounding the physicality Ridley will need to beat on the next level. His route running and technique will need to make up for his size and athletic deficiencies in order to succeed against bigger, stronger, and more athletic corners.
The concerns surrounding his NFL Combine performance are understandable, but that does not erase the film he was able to produce at Alabama with below average quarterback play. Average the two factors out and I believe you end up with a receiver that is ready to find success early due to being able to create separation, but may never be able to dominate due to his athletic profile.
While I think D.J. Moore and Courtland Sutton carry a higher ceiling in dynasty, Ridley is just as, if not more, NFL ready. This is why I am not worried about his age. If Ridley is ready to go from day one, where lies the age problem? Los Angeles Rams receiver Cooper Kupp was knocked for his age going into the 2017 draft as well. After leading all rookie receivers in receptions and racking up the 2nd most receiving yards, it seems like his age has since been forgotten. Calvin Ridley's ability to create separation through his route running makes him a high-floor fantasy option. His athletic profile however, may limit his true upside. I will gladly continue to draft him while others abandon the Ridley ship based solely on his athletic testing.