ATHENS — Riley Ridley, Georgia football’s 2018 go-to receiver, has been chomping at the bit to go to the NFL and join his big brother for quite a while.
Ridley was selected 126th overall in the draft, a fourth-round pick of the Chicago Bears and the 16th receiver selected.
Ridley was a hot commodity after leading the Bulldogs receivers his season (44 catches, 579 yards, 9 TDs) and finishing his UGA career with five catches for a team-high 61 yards in the Sugar Bowl.
But a lackluster showing at the NFL combine, followed by Ridley’s decision to decline to re-test at Georgia’s Pro Day, has put his stock in question.
The 6-foot-1, 199-pound junior ran a 4.58 40-yard dash in Indianapolis and ranked near the bottom of the chart with a 30.5-inch vertical leap.
Ridley, however, made it clear he had no concerns where his test numbers were concerned.
“I put my best foot forward every time I step on the field,” Ridley said at Georgia Pro Day on March 20. “What I put out at the combine is what I put out, and I’m happy about it.
“I’m in a blessed position in my life, so it’s all smiles for me.”
Here are three things about Ridley:
Best vs. Bama
Ridley was at his best against the Crimson Tide’s vaunted press-man defense two consecutive years, producing game film that left NFL scouts salivating.
Ridley had a career-best six catches for 82 yards in the CFP Championship Game versus Alabama as a sophomore. He followed up with a team-high five catches for 59 yards and a touchdown versus the Tide in the 2019 SEC Championship Game.
Amazingly, while those two games account for only 5 percent of the games he played in, he produced 13.7 percent of both his career catches (11 of 80) and receiving yards (141 of 1,026) in those contests.
Ridley’s older brother is former Alabama and current Atlanta Falcons WR Calvin Ridley.
The bothers are close, so much so that Calvin Ridley has continued to coach up and mentor Riley Ridley on a daily basis.
“He was videoing the routes I was running and afterward he showed me the ways I can work on those routes,” Riley Ridley said, asked about Calvin’s presence at Georgia Pro Day. “After this, I’m going to get back with him and watch that film and learn ways to improve.”
Riley Ridley was afforded the unique opportunity to train with legendary NFL receivers Chad Johnson and Terrell Owens leading up to the NFL combine
“Wherever you go, when you get there, there’s got to be something special about (expletive) Riley Ridley that makes him special that separates him from everybody else,” Johnson told him. “Whether it’s the way you work, your hands, the feet, the routes, whether it’s being consistent. It’s got to be something.”
Ridley is considered among the best route runners on the draft board, and he is statistically among the best at making contested catches.