Calvin Ridley Declares for 2018 NFL Draft After Championship Win vs. Georgia

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistJanuary 10, 2018

STARKVILLE, MS - NOVEMBER 11:  Calvin Ridley #3 of the Alabama Crimson Tide catches a pass as he warms up before the first half of an NCAA football game against the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Davis Wade Stadium on November 11, 2017 in Starkville, Mississippi. (Photo by Butch Dill/Getty Images)
Butch Dill/Getty Images

University of Alabama wide receiver Calvin Ridley is officially heading to the NFL draft.

Ridley confirmed the news after Matt Zenitz of AL.com cited sources who said Ridley would forgo his senior season with the Crimson Tide to enter the 2018 NFL draft:

Ridley became a key weapon for the Tide offense the moment he stepped on the Tuscaloosa campus. The wideout caught 89 passes for 1,045 yards and seven touchdowns during his freshman campaign in 2015 to help Bama win a national championship.

The 23-year-old Florida native added 72 catches for 769 yards and seven scores as a sophomore and 63 grabs for 967 yards and five TDs this season on the way to a national title.

Beyond the numbers, Ridley also added value for Alabama through his versatility. He's illustrated he can play anywhere in the formation, whether it's running fly routes on the outside or working the middle of the field from the slot, with excellent efficiency.

"I like playing inside, outside. I can play anywhere," he told reporters in October. "I just like to get the ball and help my team win."

Bleacher Report's Marcus Mosher isn't sure whether Ridley's well-rounded skill set makes him an elite NFL draft prospect, however:

His age has also been a talking point. He'll turn 24 during the 2018 season, which will make him an old rookie. Whether that should impact how he's evaluated is up for debate, but Eric Edholm of Pro Football Weekly provided a nice tidbit:

Amari Cooper, another Alabama product, has three pro seasons under his belt with the Oakland Raiders.  

All factors considered, Ridley's decision to enter the draft is likely the right one. He's got little left to prove or accomplish at the collegiate level, and the concerns about his age would have only grown louder if he stayed with the Crimson Tide for another year.  

The receiver has an opportunity to land inside the top 10 with a strong showing during the draft process. It's hard to imagine a scenario, outside of a serious injury that could impact his rookie season, where he doesn't come off the board in Round 1.  

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