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Alabama NFL Draft Prospects

Former NFL standout names Calvin Ridley ‘most polished WR in 2018 draft class’

Marvin Gentry - USA TODAY Sports

Before suiting up as an analyst for NFL Network, Reggie Wayne was one of the premiere faces at wide receiver in the National Football League. He spent all but one season of his illustrious 14-year career with the Indianapolis Colts (2001-14), snatching 1,070 receptions for 14,345 yards with 80 touchdowns on an average of 13.4 yards per catch.

During his time in the league, the Louisiana native was a six-time Pro Bowl selection, first team All-Pro in 2010, NFL receiving yards leader in 2007 (1,510) and a Super Bowl champion in 2006. 

In a draft class that includes Christian Kirk, Courtland Sutton, James Washington, Dante Pettis and Deon Cain among others at receiver, Wayne singled-out former Alabama standout Calvin Ridley as ‘the most polished prospect in the class.’ Despite coming off a junior campaign where both his receptions and touchdown numbers dropped from his freshman year, Ridley’s tenure with the Crimson Tide ended with 224 catches for 2,781 receiving yards and 19 scores. 

“He can do it all,” Wayne said of Ridley.

“He runs great routes and is dynamic with the ball in his hands. He understands coverages. He understands the soft spots in zones and knows how to find them. He did not have the best quarterback play either. He comes from a run dominated team in Alabama, but when it was a passing situation you needed to know where Ridley was.” 

Hailing from Coconut Creek, Fla, Ridley earned first team All-SEC honors in 2017 and helped the program capture its second national championship of the College Football Playoff era. 

He’s slender in frame – standing at 6’0 ½” and 189 pounds – but his hands (9 1/8″), arms (31 5/8″) and wingspan (75 6/8″) all measured out well at the NFL Combine. 

According to NFL.com, he was issued a grade of 6.83 (“good NFL starter with Pro Bowl potential”) and was compared to Hall of Fame receiver, Marvin Harrison. Harrison, like Ridley, was small in frame – 6-foot, 186 pounds – but turned in a stellar 13-year career in the league. 

He played for the Colts from 1996-08 and was an eight-time Pro Bowl selection, three-time first team All-Pro (1999, 2002, 2006) and a Super Bowl champion during the 2006 season.

Age has also become a concern for Ridley in his NFL pursuit, due to him turning 24 when he begins his rookie season.

He finished Monarch High School at 20 and managed to transform himself into a game-changing weapon at Alabama. While some media pundits have him projected as the eighth pick to Chicago, it will be fun to chart his career for years to come. 

Stephen M. Smith is the managing editor and senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @CoachingMSmith.

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