2018 NFL Draft: Calvin Ridley Is Set To Become The Next Amari Cooper Or Julio Jones [Opinion]

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The Alabama Crimson Tide is mostly known as a defensive powerhouse, but once in a while, they sneak a few offensive weapons into the NFL Draft. This season is one of those years. While analysts are high on Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold, or Saquon Barkley, one name has gone unmentioned — Calvin Ridley.

If one has to try to picture who Ridley is, all they have to do is think Julio Jones or Amari Cooper. Yes, all three wide receivers attended the same school, played the same position, and at a closer look, had very similar collegiate careers. While with the Crimson Tide, Jones caught 179 passes for 2,653 yards and 15 touchdowns in three seasons. Cooper caught 228 passes for 3,463 yards and 31 touchdowns in the same span as well. Ridley, in his career with Alabama, caught 224 passes for 2,781 yards and 19 touchdowns also in three years.

When Jones declared in 2011, he entered the draft with the likes of Cam Newton, Von Miller, and AJ Green. While Jones would go sixth to the Atlanta Falcons in 2011, he sure has made his mark in the NFL as arguably the best receiver in the league. This is where teams in search of a weapon must give Ridley the same respect, if not more.

No one can say for sure if Ridley will be better than Jones or Cooper, but the similarities are surely there. All three receivers are fast with great hands and superb route-running abilities. The Falcons were looking for a weapon to give Matt Ryan, and the Raiders were in search of a deep threat. However, which teams could use a player like Ridley? The New York Giants, Cleveland Browns, and Indianapolis Colts are in desperate need of a player with his skill set.

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But the issue is that most NFL Mock Drafts have Ridley going anywhere between 16th to the Baltimore Ravens and as low as 24th to the Carolina Panthers. This has to be a joke, right? The NFL is a quarterback’s league, and what QB does not need weapons?

Yes, Ridley is 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds, but how many big hits have you seen Ridley take over the years? One of the bright spots about Ridley, Jones, and Cooper during their collegiate years is that they have played on teams not known for their passing offense. The Crimson Tide teams built by Nick Saban is all about the run and defense. However, look at the receivers who have come through those doors and look what they have done in the NFL.

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Can any scout honestly say they would take Green over Jones or take the same risk the Oakland Raiders did with Cooper in 2015 with the No. 4 pick? So why are scouts and so-called experts shunning Ridley?

The Browns could use another receiver opposite Josh Gordon. The Colts could use another weapon opposite T.Y. Hilton, and the Giants need as much help as they can with the future of Odell Beckham hanging in the balance, according to Metro. Ridley is a threat, and he’s coming from an offense where they threw the ball just 23 times per game in 2017.

Barkley is a special talent, but if he has no offensive line to run behind, then he could very well turn into the next Trent Richardson. Ridley, however, has the speed to make any quarterback a Pro Bowl player. Truth be told, for two seasons, he made Jalen Hurts look pretty good.