Regarded as the most NFL-ready route runner among this year’s rookie receivers, the 23-year-old Ridley is a mature prospect who produced a 1,000-yard season as a freshman at Alabama and has a good chance to hit the ground running at the professional level. Ridley has 4.43 speed and might play even faster than his 40-yard dash time. He is expected to play flanker in three-receiver sets, and with Julio Jones lined up on the other side, Ridley is going to see a lot of single coverage against opponents’ lesser cornerbacks.
Jones is a target hog, and Mohamed Sanu will get his share of looks, too, leaving Ridley to forage for leftovers. Ridley is an older prospect who was usually lining up against younger defenders during his last year or two in Tuscaloosa. He finished with less than 1,000 yards in each of his last two college seasons and never had more than seven TD catches in a single season with the Crimson Tide, though in fairness, Alabama was a run-first team. Slightly built at 6-0 and 189 pounds, Ridley could have trouble with press coverage at the NFL level.
Ridley is polished enough to make a meaningful contribution as a rookie, but the presence of Jones keeps the fellow former Alabama star’s freshman NFL ceiling fairly low.