Career Recap: Under Nick Saban, Alabama has been a factory for NFL talent, including some special first-round wide receivers with Julio Jones and Amari Cooper. Ridley is keeping the tradition alive as he could be the next Crimson Tide wideout who ends up being a top-20 pick. Like Cooper, Ridley hails from South Florida, and the two receivers have similar skill sets.
Ridley was phenomenal in 2015 as the replacement for Cooper. The freshman made 89 receptions for 1,045 yards and seven touchdowns on the year. As a sophomore, Ridley had 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.
2017 Season Outlook: There is a lot of cornerback talent on Ridley's 2017 schedule, as one can expect. The tough tests start in Week 1 as Ridley will see a talented Florida State secondary. The Seminoles are led by potential first-round picks in safety Derwin James and cornerback Tarvarus McFadden. Ridley's speed could be a problem for McFadden.
In early October, the Crimson Tide will travel to Kyle Field. Aggies cornerback Donovan Wilson is a pro prospect to match up against Ridley. Ridley's best test of 2017 could come in the rivalry game against LSU with cornerback Kevin Toliver. Toliver is a potential first-round pick and could be the most talented cornerback that Ridley will face off against this coming season. Toliver's teammate Ed Paris is a pro prospect as well. To end the regular season, Ridley is slated to take a good corner in Auburn's Carlton Davis.
Skill-Set Summary: The passing-driven NFL has an insatiable demand for play-making wide receivers. Whether they are a No. 1 receiver, complementary No. 2 receiver, or a dangerous slot receiver, all effective NFL offenses have good players at wideout to attack defenses. As a result, a prospect like Ridley should have plenty of teams hoping to land him in his draft class.
Scouting sources say that, from a skill-set perspective, Ridley is comparable to Cooper in terms of the same strengths and weaknesses, along with being similarly sized. They feel that Ridley is suited to make an instant impact in the NFL.
Ridley has a lot of strengths 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 has a second gear of explosion 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. With his speed to run by defensive backs, Ridley stretches a defense over the top and is a true deep-threat receiver as well.
Ridley isn't overpowering with size, but does have some height with leaping ability and is able to make some contested catches over defensive backs. If Ridley were bigger, he could be an elite receiver prospect similar to A.J. Green or Julio Jones. At Ridley's size, he is extremely similar to Cooper as a player.
For the NFL, Ridley looks like a future No. 1 receiver to lead a pro offense.
2018 NFL Draft Expectations: If Ridley is able to put his skill set on display during the 2017 season, he has a good shot to be a first-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.