Summary: During Nick Saban's historic run at Alabama, the Crimson Tide have been known for their elite defense, which is annually filled with early-round NFL talent; a tough running game; and one of their other offensive staples, a play-making receiver. Julio Jones and Amari Cooper started that tradition, and Ridley has maintained it since arriving as a freshman.
Ridley did a phenomenal job as the replacement for Cooper in 2015. The freshman notched 89 receptions for 1,045 yards and seven touchdowns that season. As a sophomore, Ridley made 72 catches for 769 yards with seven touchdowns. Oddly enough, Cooper and Jones also had less production as sophomores compared to their freshman seasons, but ended up having superb junior years before declaring early for the NFL. Ridley's junior season has been impressive, but he has been held back by the passing limitations of Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts. Ridley has 55 catches for 896 yards with three touchdowns entering his college football playoff matchup with Clemson.
In surveying sources from five teams, the most common name who came up as the top receiver was Ridley. The talented junior got a lot of praise for his route-running, quickness, and generally having good hands. Scouting sources say that, from a skill-set perspective, Ridley is comparable to Cooper in terms of the same strengths, weaknesses, and similar size. They feel that Ridley is suited to make an instant impact in the NFL.
Ridley has a lot of assets to his game as he is a fast receiver who is very adept at creating separation. With his quick feet and sudden athleticism, Ridley is a very good route-runner. He is tough on defensive backs as he can put his foot in the ground and explode out of cuts. That explosion translates to Ridley also having a second gear to break downfield and is dangerous with the ball in his hands. Ridley is a fast route-runner on short to intermediate routes, so he will be a nice third-down weapon as a pro to quickly uncover and present an open target for his quarterback. With his speed to run by defensive backs, Ridley stretches a defense over the top and is a true deep-threat receiver as well. He has the ability to take a slant to the house or run a go route and fly by defensive backs.
For the NFL, Ridley could fit well as a X -split end - receiver who works along the sideline and challenges teams vertically. Given his smaller frame, his pro team may want to protect him from doing too much work in the middle of the field and sending him across the play.
Though Ridley is the top consensus wideout, he doesn't come without some concerns, with multiple sources independently noting that his thin frame worries them for the NFL. He is listed at 190 pounds, but team sources say that he has weighed-in in the 180s. With that being one factor, some scouts have said they are grading Ridley as a late first-rounder. He could end up going high out of team need at his premium position, however.
Player Comparison: Amari Cooper. Ridley is very similar to Cooper as a player. Both of them are fast receivers who are good route-runners, sudden in and out of their breaks, challenge defenses with their speed, and are potential No. 1 receivers for an offense. Cooper was the fourth-overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, and Ridley also could go early in the 2018 NFL Draft.
NFL Matches: Cleveland, San Francisco, Chicago, Denver, Washington, Arizona, Miami, Buffalo, Baltimore and Jacksonville
There are a lot of teams that could be in the market for a wide receiver upgrade in the 2018 NFL Draft. The Browns need a No. 1 receiver for their offense as they can't count on Josh Gordon to stay on the field and Corey Coleman hasn't panned out yet. With their second first-round pick of the 2018 NFL Draft, the Browns could consider a receiver like Ridley.
The Bears and 49ers both could use a No. 1 receiver for their offenses. Chicago badly needs more weapons for Mitch Trubisky, while Ridley would be a nice fit for Kyle Shanahan across from Marquise Goodwin.
The Broncos, Redskins and Cardinals all could be in the market for a quarterback in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft, but at least a few of these franchises won't have a signal-caller worthy of their pick get to them, so all three could consider a receiver like Ridley. Denver has shopped Demaryius Thomas and could be ready to move on from him. Washington signed Terrelle Pryor, but he is entering free agency after underwhelming with the Redskins. Arizona has to consider life after Larry Fitzgerald and could use more receiving talent around the future Hall of Famer.
The Dolphins could consider bringing Ridley back to South Florida if Jarvis Landry isn't re-signed. Staying in Florida, the Jaguars could target a receiver like Ridley if Allen Robinson and Marqise Lee aren't re-signed.
The Bills and Ravens also are in the market for receiver help. Buffalo has two first-round picks in the 2018 NFL Draft and could have a nice trio with Ridley, Kelvin Benjamin and Zay Jones. Baltimore badly needs a No. 1 receiver for its offense. Ridley would make a lot of sense for the Ravens if he gets to their first-round pick.