Here’s a bit of unsurprising news: Todd McShay’s most recent mock draft is sending Alabama Wide Receiver Calvin Ridley to the Chicago Bears with the eighth overall pick in the draft – needless to say, this has become a very popular opinion.
With that said, it wasn’t a thoughtless prediction.
In fact, McShay also considered Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward in this spot, but in the end, stuck with the idea that the Pace needs to team up quarterback Mitch Trubisky with a stud pass catcher. That’s no surprise considering the need at the position and Ridley’s talent level – some see him as the clear top receiver in the class.
If you’ll recall Ridley was McShay’s pick to go to the Bears in his first mock draft back in December. McShay hasn’t moved off his stance that Ridley is the draft’s top wide receiver and that Ridley’s stats don’t tell the whole story because the Crimson Tide’s run-first offense didn’t allow him the opportunity to put up the kind numbers you’d come to expect from a top-flight receiver.
In any case, the perception surrounding Ridley seems to be changing. While he’s not getting bigger or stronger, there have been an increasing number of mock drafts connecting Ridley to the Bears (i.e. the top ten). Perhaps the fact that football insiders and analysts are warming to the idea of taking a receiver in the top-10 overall suggests that NFL talent evaluators are doing the same.
In case you missed it, the NFL Scouting Combine will take place later this month and Ridley is among the 44 wide receivers who were invited to participate. Along with the list of players who were asked to attend the Combine, the league’s website has started to roll out scouting reports for draft-eligible players.
Ridley’s evaluation was written by Lance Zierlein, who compared the draft’s top receiver prospect to Hall of Famer Marvin Harrison.
“Ridley has game-changing talent complete with blazing speed and rare route-running ability for a college prospect. He ran the full route tree at Alabama, has experience working in a pro-style attack and is a plug-and-play starter on day one. He must improve his ability to defeat press corners off the snap or he’ll become a feast or famine target. Ridley’s elite speed and separation talent gives him the potential to become one of the more productive and dangerous receivers in the league.”
Put aside the comparison to the Hall of Famer and note Zierlein’s spot-on description of Ridley’s game. If we dare make any comparison to Harrison, it’s that at an even 6-feet and 185 pounds, the Syracuse product was seen as undersized. And yet, because of his precise route-running skills and reliable hands, Harrison was a starter from the jump – despite not being a top-10 pick. Fittingly enough, if Ridley follows in those footsteps, he’ll do so as a rookie in his age 24 season … just as Harrison did in 1996. I’m always hesitant to compare a college player to a legend, but the glove fits a little too well to ignore.
Conducting a mock draft might feel like a fool’s errand at this stage of the offseason, especially with the free agent market not set to open up until March. The Bears are expected to be players for free agent receivers like Allen Robinson and Jarvis Landry, so much can change between now and draft day. But that the Bears have options at attacking the position and making improvements should give Bears fans hope that they can finally get it right.