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2018 NFL Draft Prospect: Calvin Ridley

On January 1, Calvin Ridley and the Alabama Crimson Tide take on the Clemson Tigers in the Sugar Bowl. Since arriving in Tuscaloosa, there has been plenty of expectation for when he’d eventually enter the draft, but how will Ridley compare to fellow Alabama alumni when he makes the leap to the NFL?

Background

As a high school recruit, there was no lack of hype for Calvin Ridley. According to 247Sports, Ridley was a five-star recruit and the No. 1 wide receiver in the 2015 class. He was the sixth-best prospect in the state of Florida and the 12th-rated prospect in the country in the 247 Composite Rankings.

As you’d expect with the No. 1 receiver, Ridley had offers from nearly every relevant college program, but he committed to Alabama prior to his senior season.

Collegiate Production

Despite being a playoff team for each of Ridley’s three seasons, the team passing offense has gotten worse each year. That has allowed Ridley’s yardage share to remain steady as his raw yardage has declined.

YearClassReceptionsYardsTDsMS YardsMS TDsDominator
2015FR8910457.31.32.31
2016SO727697.24.27.26
2017JR558963.36.13.25
Career2162710170.30.24.27

Ridley made an immediate impact during his freshman season, accumulating over 1,000 receiving yards and seven touchdowns despite playing with O.J. Howard and Ardarius Stewart, players who have since joined the NFL. His 31 percent market share of yards led the team by more than 10 percent.

The noticeable change in Ridley’s stat line is his share of the touchdowns this season, but with at least one game remaining, he’ll have an opportunity to improve that part of his dominator rating. Even with his drop-off in touchdown contributions, Ridley is the clear leader of the team’s receiving. His 36 percent market share of yards is the highest of his career despite having his fewest receptions.

PlayerRecYdsAvgTD
Calvin Ridley5589616.33
Cam Sims1425918.51
Jerry Jeudy1324418.82
Henry Ruggs III7175255
Joshua Jacobs1216513.82
Robert Foster1114613.31
Irv Smith Jr131229.43
Devonta Smith611519.22
Bo Scarbrough14926.60
Hale Hentges67312.23
Damien Harris8668.30
Derek Kief234171
Major Tennison230150
Xavian Marks124240
Najee Harris5234.60
Miller Forristall112120
Jalen Hurts1-1-10
Andy Pappanastos1-9-90

Draft Prospects

Ridley’s junior season significantly improved his projection using Kevin Cole’s Regression tree. In addition to maintaining his career market share over 29 percent, his final season yards per reception over 16 yards helped put him in a better final node for historical success rate.

Kevin Cole Regression Tree

CBS Sports ranks Ridley as the sixth-best WR and No. 41 overall prospect in the class with a second-round projection. He’s listed at 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds by NFL Draft Scout with a median projected 40 time of 4.48 seconds. If he performs well at the combine or in the playoff, Ridley could see his draft stock rise into the first round.

Ridley turned 23 in December, and assuming his draft position holds as projected, he’ll join the following list of players drafted in the first two rounds at age 23 or older since 2000.

YearRndPickPlayerDrAgeTmRecYdsTDCollege/Univ
2008233Donnie Avery24STL218286114Houston
2005235Reggie Brown24PHI177257417Georgia
2012254Ryan Broyles24DET324202Oklahoma
2003245Bethel Johnson24NWE396064Texas A&M
2014128Kelvin Benjamin23CAR182261419Florida St.
2005239Mark Bradley23CHI9212839Oklahoma
2002265Deion Branch23NWE518664439Louisville
200018Plaxico Burress23PIT553849964Michigan St.
2002248Reche Caldwell23SDG152185111Florida
2001252Chris Chambers23MIA540764858Wisconsin
2005122Mark Clayton23BAL260344814Oklahoma
2002247Andre' Davis23CLE156247017Virginia Tech
2016122Josh Doctson23WAS335316TCU
2004113Lee Evans23BUF381600843Wisconsin
2001115Rod Gardner23WAS242316523Clemson
201114A.J. Green23CIN554819657Georgia
2001236Chad Johnson23CIN7661105967Oregon St.
2001233Quincy Morgan23CLE164246617Kansas St.
2008236Jordy Nelson23GNB550784869Kansas St.
2005255Roscoe Parrish23BUF13415027Miami (FL)
2000236Todd Pinkston23PHI184281614Southern Miss
2012233Brian Quick23STL111157510Appalachian St.
2002262Antwaan Randle El23PIT370446715Indiana
2015237Devin Smith23NYJ101351Ohio St.
2008253Limas Sweed23PIT7690Texas
2016247Michael Thomas23NOR190228814Ohio St.
2002120Javon Walker23GNB267401131Florida St.
200014Peter Warrick23CIN275299118Florida St.
201517Kevin White23CHI211930West Virginia
2005127Roddy White23ATL8081086363Ala-Birmingham
2004131Rashaun Woods23SFO71601Oklahoma St.

While “bust” names like Kevin White and Ryan Broyles stand out to pessimists, the list also includes highly successful players like A.J. GreenRoddy White, and Jordy Nelson. Ridley is likely going to be a mid-to-late first round pick in 2018 rookie draft with a decent landing spot. He’s not an elite level prospect like former Alabama receiver Amari Cooper, but his past high school pedigree and college production indicates an opportunity to succeed.

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