TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Former Alabama football star Calvin Ridley and Texas A&M’s Christian Kirk are widely regarded as the top two receivers in this NFL draft class.
Heading into the NFL combine, NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock has Ridley as his top receiver prospect, but he sees a lot of similarities in the two SEC products.
“I think [Ridley] and Christian Kirk are the two best route runners in this class,” Mayock said Monday. “Neither of them has great size, but they’re both fast and quick. They run great routes. I think Ridley’s challenge is going to be the complexity of defensive schemes in the NFL.”
Ridley has a smaller frame at 6-foot-1, 190 pounds, but his quickness off the line of scrimmage allowed him to beat press coverage. Alabama’s offensive coordinators also made a point to move Ridley to create favorable matchups.
Mayock believes Ridley “can play outside, but will become predominantly a slot receiver.” Mayock also is of the belief that Ridley might be faster than Kirk, but is interested to see the two run at the combine.
“Both run tremendous routes, both have really good hands and are both really tough catching the football with good run after the catch,” Mayock said.
Ridley finished his college career as one of the top receivers in Alabama history. The Fort Lauderdale, Fla., native ranks No. 2 all time at UA in receptions (224) and touchdown receptions (19) and third in receiving yards (2,749) and 100-yard receiving games (8). Ridley also caught at least one pass in all 43 of his games at Alabama, which was the third-longest active streak in the NCAA at the end of the 2017 season.
If there is one area in which Kirk has the edge in Mayock’s eyes, it’s in the return game. Ridley dabbled as a return man at Alabama but never completely took over the position. Kirk was a special teams star for three seasons in College Station.
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