HEIGHT: 6'5 1/8"
ARM: 33 3/8"
WINGSPAN: 6'9 3/8"
40-YARD DASH: 5.30
— Tall frame with long arms; usually gets to hit first upon contact.
— Good hand usage. Shows a consistent strike with plenty of power.
— Great upper-body strength. Can control blocks at will once he latches on.
— Good flexibility and movement in space for a player his size.
— Can shed blocks and tackle thanks to his length and agility.
— High-effort pass-rusher. Keeps his legs churning and finds ways to wrestle out of blocks.
— Below-average foot speed. Struggles to bring his feet with him when coming off the ball.
— Pad level gets too high after initial contact.
— Below-average ability to find his base and anchor. Related to pad level.
— Below-average lower-body strength. Too often gets moved off his spot against double-teams.
11 G, 39 TOT, 4 TFL, 2 SK
— Played four seasons at Illinois State. Transferred to Arkansas for the 2021 season.
— 2-star recruit in 2017.
An Illinois State transfer, John Ridgeway III took over the starting nose guard position at Arkansas seamlessly last fall.
Ridgeway's tall frame and long arms enable him to consistently get the first strike on his opponents. He also packs a mean punch in his hands, regularly shocking offensive linemen back a step or two upon contact. From there, he generally does well to control blocks and maintain his balance, even showcasing the ability to rip blockers off of him and cover a decent amount of open grass to make tackles.
Ridgeway's tenacity and surprising flexibility show up as a pass-rusher, too. He is not dynamic in any way, but between his initial punch, the energy to keep his legs churning and his functional flexibility, he often finds a way to free himself from blocks to help rally on late sacks. Ridgeway at least clears the bar for pass-rushing as a nose guard.
However, Ridgeway's height works against him. He has a tendency to get too high after initial contact. That issue crops up in part because he does not bring his feet with him off the snap, resulting in him sort of lunging to initiate contact and consequently getting stood back up.
Ridgeway's slow feet are also why he can struggle to get his base under him and anchor down against double-teams. At his weight, handling double-teams should not be an issue, but he just does not get into position to do so comfortably.
On the one hand, Ridgeway's tendency to play high and fail to establish an anchor make him a tough bet to produce as a rookie. On the other hand, his issues with slow feet and playing too high may be fixable through coaching, which could go a long way in unlocking his skill set down the line. For now, Ridgeway will need to play off the bench as strictly a 0-tech and 1-tech while he tries to fortify his anchor.
GRADE: 6.6 (Potential Role Player - 4th Round)
OVERALL RANK: 141
POSITION RANK: DL12
PRO COMPARISON: Harrison Phillips