Calvin Ridley didn’t dominate the NFL Combine like former Alabama receivers Julio Jones and Amari Cooper. His 4.43 40-yard dash and 6.88 3-cone were impressive, but the 31-inch vertical and 110-inch broad jump left a lot to be desired.
The up-and-down performance has caused some draft pundits to question whether the 6-0, 189-pound receiver deserves first-round consideration in the upcoming NFL draft set to take place in April. Yes, it’s true that the workout didn’t meet the expectations of some, but any conclusion that leaves Ridley out of the first-round is flawed.
In fact, Ridley would be a perfect fit for a team like the Dallas Cowboys at No. 19 overall. Here are three reasons why:
1. Dallas needs a true No. 1 receiver for Dak Prescott
Dez Bryant has been an exceptional receiver for the Cowboys ever since they drafted him at No. 24 overall in the 2010 NFL Draft. He’s been named to three Pro Bowls during his eight years in Dallas, and his 7,459 receiving yards and 73 touchdowns both rank in the top 5 in team history.
With that said, the 29-year old seems to be past his prime. Now, that doesn’t mean he can’t still be an effective receiver. It just means that he shouldn’t be considered a true No. 1 option anymore.
It actually wouldn’t be surprising to see him traded or released sometime in the near future.
The Cowboys were able to sign former Jaguars WR Allen Hurns to a two-year, $12 million deal, according to ESPN. At this point, he should be considered a No. 2 receiver if the team wants to put him in the best position to succeed, however.
Even if Dallas chooses to retain Bryant for another season, the wide receiver position still needs work long-term — leaving the idea of adding a guy like Ridley as a strong possibility.
2. Ridley can be effective at all levels of the field
There are people out there who question Prescott’s ability to consistently push the ball downfield. Some of those concerns are overblown, but having a guy like Ridley on the field should alleviate some of those concerns.
The Alabama product has shown that he can be effective on short, long and intermediate routes. Compare that to a guy like Bryant — who seems to show limitations to his route tree — and it’s easy to see how Ridley’s presence would open up the playbook more for offensive coordinator Scott Linehan.
It’s just a matter of using Ridley to the best of his abilities.
3. It continues to build a young core of offensive skill players
Dallas has already solidified several skill positions on the offensive side of the football. Prescott and RB Ezekiel Elliott will only be 25 and 23, respectively, in July and Hurns won’t even turn 27 until November.
In addition, some of the other building blocks they have at the offensive skill positions are RB Rod Smith (26), WR Ryan Switzer (23) and TE Rico Gathers (24).
If Ridley is available at No. 19 and the Cowboys choose to take him, that’d come close to putting the finishing touches on an already impressive group of young offensive playmakers. At that point, the only other position that could use competition would be tight end.