The Chicago Bears made an aggressive move drafting quarterback Mitch Trubisky last April, so it would only be right for the front office to move similarly when surrounding him with upgraded talent. And that could include drafting Alabama wide receiver Calvin Ridley with the team’s first-round pick next spring.
At least, that’s the suggestion of Connor Rogers in his midseason mock of the 2018 NFL Draft. Rogers has the Bears selecting Ridley with the 10th overall pick, a move he calls a stretch while acknowledging the team’s need to be proactive in surrounding Trubisky with talent. Ridley is described as a safe option who can contribute upon his entrance into the huddle. The combination of speed and prowess as a route runner will make Ridley one of the most highly sought-after underclassmen in the upcoming draft. Moreover, Ridley could be someone the Bears could have their eyes on and be in a position to take depending on how the second half of their season goes. It’s a pairing that former Alabama quarterback Jake Coker believes that makes Ridley unguardable:
“He would run these bender routes where he’d have a hash read and he’d just break it off and get vertical and nobody could stay with him,” Coker told NFL.com’s Chase Goodbread. “He accelerates so fast out of the break, he’s unguardable. His speed is one thing, but when he makes a cut, that’s where he gets separation, because he doesn’t lose a step. He and (Oakland Raiders receiver and Alabama product) Amari (Cooper) both have that.”
Being compared favorably to a receiver who has posted back-to-back 1,000-yard receiving seasons in his first two years in the NFL is quite nice. With that said, it would be a major boon to add him to a mix of receivers that collectively owns a low ceiling and lacks a playmaker with high upside.
There might be a faction of fans who would be turned off by GM Ryan Pace burning a top-10 pick on a receiver for the second time in four years, but Ridley shouldn’t remind fans of Kevin White.
White played just 23 games in two years at West Virginia. Years of experience at the college level doesn’t necessarily translate into success in the NFL, but continuous reps over a successful three-or-four-year stretch can’t hurt and could help. Ridley surpassed White’s games played total after playing 30 games in his freshman and sophomore seasons. Now a junior, Ridley has played 39 games and could be well on his way to having played 45 games in three years if the Crimson Tide run the table and play in their third straight national title game.
That combination of speed, route-running, and big-game experience could make Ridley the ideal draft day target for the Bears in 2018, but also a player we’ll need to keep an eye on as this college football season progresses.