NAME: Riley Ridley
POSITION: Wide Receiver
JERSEY: No. 8
RECRUITMENT RATING: 4-star
WT: 200 lbs
Route Running – Ridley generally aligned to the right side of the offensive formation. Ridley is a consistent, explosive route runner who creates constant throwing windows. His route running starts with his get-off. When given a free release, he does an excellent job of opening up his strides immediately. This give him natural acceleration and vertical push that makes defensive backs uncomfortable. To go along with his acceleration, his deceleration is equally as impressive. Ridley will stop on a dime, which makes his hitch and curl breaks lethal. His stems have proper pad level, and he will motor down and create an easy throwing window within two steps. Ridley has knowledge and awareness as a route runner, as he will work to stack defensive backs when he gets behind them. There is nuance and his stems and breaks when he’s given a free release, and his violent cuts and rocker step will force defensive backs onto their heels. He possesses a certain lateral shiftiness at the line of scrimmage that can limit the jams of defensive backs. In his arsenal is a lethal dead leg release.
Ridley will occasionally lack conviction in his plan and counters when facing press or tight coverage. When he sees an opening, the has all of the tools to consistently defeat press coverage and get into his route. There are too many inconsistencies in his hand fighting technique. Georgia’s offense limited his route tree and they consistently called for short to intermediate routes that are difficult to run when pressed.
Athleticism / Speed – Ridley is a a smooth, flexible athlete with length. His best traits are his acceleration and deceleration, and there is a suddenness is his cuts. Long speed is easily above average, though I wouldn’t qualify him as a burner on film. He’s close to being completely filled out in his frame, but could likely stand to add just a few more pounds of muscle and strength for the NFL.
Hands / Ball Skills – Up until his junior season, Ridley had shaky and inconsistent hands. Through two seasons, he had 7 drops with just 26 receptions. However, through a six game sample of 2018, he had just one drop. Adjustments to different ball placements don’t phase him, and he had an added focus on the ball into his hands in 2018. On out breaking routes, he has natural hands, extension and transition into a ball carrier. There are undoubtedly instances where Ridley will allow the ball to come into his body, but he has a general awareness to be extending to the catch point when necessary.
Body Control – Ridley’s body control is outstanding, especially along the boundary. He easily flips his hips when rising, extending to the catch point with awareness of his feet and the sideline. Adjusts to back shoulder throws on the outside with ease. On top of his body positioning in the air, Ridley has shown the ability to tight rope the sideline as a ball carrier.
Ball Carrier – Ridley isn’t necessarily a dynamic ball carrier or homerun threat, but he offers some juice in this regard. He does an excellent job of limiting his surface area as a ball carrier and operating with a low center of gravity. He will process and likely avoid the initial defender with his ability to drop his pads and remain upright. His dead leg cut as a route runner can be as effective as his releases.
Stalk Blocking – Ridley’s effort as a blocker consistently shows up, and he has an understanding of body positioning. He’s shown the ability to cut defensive backs in space, cut off defenders who have angles to the inside or flow to defensive backs attacking downhill. He will too often rely on one shoulder hit to stop the charge of defenders, and needs to sink his hips and extend towards them. Occasionally will remain engaged, but he isn’t dominant in his grip.
Versatility – Georgia didn’t vary Ridley’s alignment much in 2018, and he has minimal experience in the return game. However, Ridley has an all-around game as a receiver who can win in each level of the field. He has explosive traits, but also one that could translate into a possession-type role with his soft hands. Though he wasn’t asked to play much as a slot receiver, his acceleration when given a free release gives him exciting tools as a seam threat.
BEST TRAIT – Route Running
WORST TRAIT – YAC
RED FLAGS – Arrested for marijuana possession in March of 2017
Ridley is a well-rounded prospect who was held back in college due to offensive scheme and surrounding talent. He easily projects as a better pro player in a passing offense than his production in college. With the tools to play most receiving spots and plus athleticism, he has few weaknesses in his game. Expect Ridley to be a sought after commodity on Day 2 of the NFL Draft because of his enticing tools. Projecting to the next level, his ceiling is that of the main option on a passing offense, but likely not one that will dominate targets. If paired with a legitimate WR1, Ridley will provide a high-end complimentary game as the second option.
Routes – Has only run a limited route tree but illustrates good traits within those routes that suggest a more expansive tree is within his realm of capability. Does well to sell his route breaks and is fluid in and out of his breaks. Knows how to attack leverage and find space. Ideal step frequency in the routes he is asked to run. Effectively alters his route pace at different intervals of the route to keep corners guessing.
Hands – Soft, natural hands. Plucks the football with ease and the ball sticks. Squeezes the football tightly and secures it to his frame. Was challenged to extend for the ball and had no issues reaching in any direction and snatching the football.
Ball Skills – Put some tremendous reps on tape where he locates the football vertically down the field, adjusts and positions himself to go get it. Has an excellent above-the-rim game and his body control at the catch point is terrific. Attacks the football like an alpha and doesn’t wait on the ball. Excellent control and concentration along the sideline and in contested situations.
YAC Ability – Hasn’t been given favorable opportunities that give him chances to create after the catch but still found ways. Physical and decisive post-catch and illustrates good burst to work up the field. Does well to secure the ball and immediately look to gain yards.
Release – Had no issues winning in the contact window to clear press coverage in college but more variety in his releases will be needed to be consistent in the NFL. Needs to develop more hand technique at the line of scrimmage. Not saying he will struggle to beat press in the NFL, but more development is needed. Is smooth off the line of scrimmage and works into his route stems with good speed and fluidity. Does well to use his release to create leverage and uncover quickly.
Play Speed – Is a big-play threat that is capable of winning down the field. Doesn’t just win with speed, but his blend of ball skills and route-running savvy enable him to win vertically. Has good juice and burst to win after the catch and uncover at all levels.
Blocking – Gets his work done. Does well to locate his hands, leverage his hips and move his feet to seal defensive backs. Can be trusted to hit key blocks on the perimeter on outside runs/screens to his size.
Play Strength – Plays like an alpha. Shields opponents at the catch point effectively. Is assertive and physical as a route runner, blocker and ball carrier. Illustrates outstanding body control and contact balance.
Versatility – Is a three level threat with the ability to excel from the outside but could also be used situationally in the slot. Was not featured in the return game in college.
BEST TRAIT – Ball Skills
WORST TRAIT – Release (needs to evolve)
RED FLAGS – Arrested for marijuana possession in March of 2017.
Riley Ridley’s production in college won’t turn heads but his traits certainly do. In a run-heavy and conservative Georgia offense with numerous other dynamic pass-catching, Ridley didn’t get the opportunities he should have but still led the Bulldogs in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. He has all of the physical traits to be a dynamic weapon in the NFL with playmaking upside to all levels of the field. By year three, Ridley has the makeup of a top a highly productive top-two receiving option for a prolific NFL passing offense.
Route Running –Doesn’t flash a lot of initial explosion out of the gates and can get tied up a little too long in the contact window. His footwork, pad level and deceleration skills are all money, he wins with precision on his come backs, post routes and other hard angle stems.
Hands –Love the way he attacks the football in the air. He’s aggressive and works back to the football effectively to diminish angles for defenders looking to get involved. Soft hands and really good concentration skills to not let flashing limbs break his beat on the ball.
Contested Catch Ability –Hasn’t had a boatload of reps here but when he’s been given the chance to look for back shoulder throws and jump balls he hasn’t disappointed. Like his body control to elevate vertically and ensure he’s high pointing the football.
Run After Catch Ability –Combination of good size, balance, burst and functional strength. He doesn’t necessarily have a calling card in any of those areas individually but he’s a well rounded ball carrier and threat to pressure DBs one on one in a number of different ways.
Football IQ –His route running and releases aren’t overly nuanced but he shows mastery of what he’s been tasked with executing. Little reason to doubt he won’t be able to develop more from a technical perspective. Ball skills are naturally strong.
Vertical Receiving –Not a big time burner and isn’t going to dust defenders on straight go routes, but I like his ability to hand fight, break contact and then accelerate out to stack defenders. His tempered speeds win him more routes, but limited route tree allows DBs to sit on his stem.
Change of Direction Skills –Confident in his feet to generate the kind of hard breaks needed to shake a sticky defender in man coverage. His steps are precise and allow him to play with balance. Shows good ability to drive a foot out from under his hips and create lateral movement.
Speed –Good, but not great. He’s going to have no issue stacking defenders, especially as his route releases get more developed and he’s able to get off of the LOS quicker and cleaner. Like his second gear, he’ll lull you to sleep.
Competitive Toughness –Would like to see a little more strength and aggressiveness to power through contact. His effort level as a secondary player is very good, have seen him get on his horse and haul it down the field in potential big plays when he can spring a big block.
Blocking Ability –Moves his feet effectively to slide, mirror and pin down defensive backs on the boundary. Shows sticky hands once he’s clamped down. Nice job as a stalk blocker to allow himself to work into a leveraged spot before breaking into a block.
BEST TRAIT – Hands
WORST TRAIT – Release vs. Press
BEST FILM – Texas (2018)
WORST FILM – LSU (2018)
RED FLAGS – 2017 marijuana arrest
Riley Ridley projects favorably as a starting wide receiver in the NFL. Ridley’s precise efforts on his route stem yield effective breaks and help to establish separation. Not the most dynamic athlete, Ridley wins in space with technique and shows an effective ability to temper his speeds and put the pedal down out of his break. Ridley’s production will cause some pause, but this is a player who will be a better pro than collegiate prospect in a better offensive situation.
Separation Quickness – All cuts are at full speed all the time. Snaps his hips around to find the football before the window expires. Doesn’t have tremendous burst to separate from top man coverage guys, but sells deception in his route fakes to opponent up throwing windows. Ability to decelerate despite a strong vertical push almost always stuns his opponent and creates space. Separation quickness is not a trump card for Ridley, but still an area he’s fully capable in.
Ball Skills – Ability to adjust off-frame is outstanding. Makes high degree of difficulty grabs with confidence, snagging passes outside his frame, behind him and at full extension with ease. Elevates to pluck and had hardly any drops last season after some issues early in his career. Body control along the boundary to finish tough catches and get his feet in bounds is elite. Ability to track the football vertically, often having to adjust back shoulder to it, is a key strength of his.
Speed/Burst – Everything is done at full speed at all times, which I love about Ridley. Like Kelvin Harmon in that way, and also in the way that neither will be burners in Indianapolis. Ridley has enough speed to win vertically, but isn’t going to run by most corners in man coverage.
Route-Running – Master of the curl route. Could sell vertically a little better with a lower pad level off the ball, but drops his hips hard at the top of his pattern to work back to the ball. Owns off and press man coverage with back to the ball patterns. Understands spacing of zone coverage and consistently sits down or angles his routes to voids. Flashes of deceptive footwork in his steps free him up vs off/zone coverage. Hips and feet point in the direction of his fake, before snapping his pattern back to its true destination with a decisive burst. Route tree is limited to mostly a vertical plane, but very nuanced at the patterns he does run.
Contested Catch – Unbothered by defenders over his back or contested him in the air. Terrific concentration to finish through contact and in tight quarters. Has snagged a few over the middle away from his frame with contact looming. Easy elevation to high-point and has the strength and body control to make tough adjustments and finish. Has some hang-time to him.
YAC – With so many of his receptions coming on routes that were back to the ball, often had a defender on his back before he could even become a runner. When he did create space to work post-catch, consistently made the first defender miss with elusiveness or lower body strength as a tackle-breaker. Sudden in his cuts without being the joystick type of runner. Always fights for extra yardage and several examples of him dragging tacklers for a few extra yards. Very aware of the sticks. Lacks the breakaway speed to be a home run threat.
Releases – Never got a great feel for him against press coverage due to his limited route tree making it easier for defenders to stick with him. Good suddenness off the line of scrimmage, slow-played his release before bursting to life and forcing defensive backs to match his shifting tempo. Was rarely jammed up or slowed off the ball, but could stand to be more deceptive to get corners off-balance early in the rep. More variety will be needed at the next level.
Blocking – Solid blocker who can get hands inside, keep a wide base and stay latched with a purpose. Will attempt to move the opposing cornerback with technique and ferocity. Weird lapses in technique where he throws a shoulder at an oncoming defensive back looking for a knockout blow.
Competitive Toughness – Competes at a high level and took no plays off, even on a team that didn’t target him as much as they should have. Physicality and effort post-catch are clear on every rep, fights for every inch he can get.
Athleticism/Size – Good athlete who can really get up for the football. Long speed is a bit of a question mark, but I don’t think he’s slow either. Ideal size, length and build for the position.
BEST TRAIT – Ball Skills/Contested Catch
WORST TRAIT – Long Speed/Production
RED FLAGS – 2017 marijuana arrest
One of the more polarizing prospects in the 2019 NFL Draft, but oddly enough, not based off what you see on tape. It’s easy to see Ridley is talented and pro-ready in many ways, from his decisive routes to his outstanding ball skills and contested catch ability. So why didn’t Georgia use him more in their offense?
That question can be asked of a lot of Georgia’s talented receivers, but Ridley has a ceiling that is unmatched by the rest of his teammates. His size, athleticism and attention to detail suggest a starting NFL wide receiver who can match up against physical cornerbacks in man or find space against zone defenses with equal propensity. It’s hard for me to envision Ridley’s most productive football not being ahead of him, the only question is if his ceiling is that of a Round 1 talent or more of a high-end no. 2 pass catcher in an NFL offense. If he tests well, I’m taking the risk earlier than most.