INDIANAPOLIS — The buzz around Georgia WR Riley Ridley died down on Saturday at the NFL combine after the junior posted mediocre numbers at Lucas Oil Stadium.
It’s been a somewhat sobering three days for the Bulldogs’ underclassmen who opted to leave school a year early.
Only WR Mecole Hardman has met expectations at the combine with his 4.33-second 40-yard dash. It was a great time, but not as fast as Hardman believes he’s capable of running.
One can only wonder what Hardman’s numbers would have looked like at Georgia in 2019 had he returned for his senior season and a third year playing at the WR position after switching from defensive back in 2017.
Ridley, meanwhile, lost some of the first-round and early-second round buzz some had began speculated entering the NFL combine.
Ridley’s 40 times of 4.59 and 4.61 were off the NFL benchmark for receivers (4.55) and did nothing to inspire hopes he could have the same sort of success as his older brother. Calvin Ridley ran a 4.43 time at the combine last year.
Ridley’s vertical jump was particularly alarming for teams with visions of drafting him to out-jump defenders and high point the ball.
Ridley’s 30.5-inch jump was only 41st-best out of the 42 receivers who took part in the exercise — well off the 43.5-inch jump from Missouri WR Emanuel Hall.
The 124-inch broad jump from Ridley was more in line with other receivers at the NFL combine. It was tied for 12th-best and four inches better than the suggested benchmark.
Hardman had a 119-inch broad jump, and Terry Godwin broad jumped 117 inches on Saturday.
The sprints, jumps and lifts obviously aren’t everything in the NFL evaluation process.
There’s plenty of game film that shows the talents and abilities of the Bulldogs 2019 NFL draft class, including the underclassmen.
But metrics do matter, and the combine represented a chance for departing Georgia players to raise their stock and compare favorably to other athletics competing in Indianapolis.
UGA juniors Elijah Holyfield and Isaac Nauta were near the bottom in their position groups in their 40-yard runs at the combine this week, even after hiring experts to help them train.
Holyfield and Nauta, however, had very productive seasons for the Bulldogs and NFL teams won’t overlook that.
Holyfield rushed for more than 1,000 yards and was named a team captain, universally respected and a fan favorite.
Nauta had the highest catch rate on the team, grabbing 30 of 31 targets, and coming up big over and over in the big games.
Meanwhile, departing UGA seniors Jonathan Ledbetter and D’Andre Walker did their podium interviews on Saturday.
Ledbetter pumped out 22 repetitions on the bench shortly after predicting how the UGA defense will look in 2019.
Walker is still recovering from sports hernia surgery (Jan. 23) and will not lift or run at the combine.
Walker hopes to be ready to take part in what figures to be a very busy Georgia pro day on March 20. Several of the outgoing Bulldogs figure to run and test again for NFL scouts.
DawgNation Georgia beat writer Mike Griffith and AJC.com Atlanta Falcons beat writer D. Orlando Ledbetter put the Day 3 performances into perspective from the Indiana Convention Center.
Mike Griffith and D. Orlando Ledbetter
When you watch the NFL combine workouts this week, keep this chart handy. These are my target test results for each position and event. pic.twitter.com/w3yzY8PcGF
— Gil Brandt (@Gil_Brandt) February 25, 2019