INDIANAPOLIS — A few weeks ago, a Bears fan account on Instagram posed a question: Who would you want the Bears to pick at No. 8?
The second comment on the post was from justdoit_cb3, Alabama wide receiver Calvin Ridley’s verified account. His response: “Cal.” It wasn’t the first time Ridley publicly stated his hope he’d land with the Bears on social media, either:
Bears come get ya boy also!!!— CALVIN RIDLEY (@CalvinRidley1) April 29, 2017
In his media session on Friday at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, Ridley was asked about the Bears and offered plenty of praise about the franchise.
Alabama WR Calvin Ridley says the Bears are a “team on the rise” and have “great quarterback” in Mitch Trubisky.— JJ Stankevitz (@JJStankevitz) March 2, 2018
Does this mean anything? Probably not much as the Bears build a cloud of players they’d be comfortable with drafting at No. 8. It’s not Ridley’s decision to make on if Ryan Pace will draft a wide receiver with a top-10 pick for the second time in four years.
But if the Bears do want to use another high draft pick on a receiver, Ridley is — at this point — the most likely guy to be taken there.
The 6-foot-1, 190 pound Ridley caught 63 passes for 967 yards in 2017 and follows Amari Cooper and Julio Jones in a strong line of top receivers to come out of Alabama. He may be the best route runner in this year’s draft class, has a highly regarded work ethic and good football intelligence, which is what the Bears are looking for out of the guys they’re targeting to rebuild a barren receiving corps in 2018.
“I like looking for guys that are just natural receivers, guys that know how to play football,” coach Matt Nagy said. “It's easy to get caught up in some of the other stuff, but at the same time that's why we're here. That can maybe move a guy because of a 40 time, I might move a guy because of another test that he has. For me, it's nice to be able to be in the interview process, get to see how they are as people. What's their intel? How well do they reciprocate what you talk about? How do they recite what you say? Then you kinda get an evaluation of that.”
The biggest dings on Ridley’s game is his size and strength, which led him to sometimes struggle against press coverage in college. That could also lead to some concerns about his durability in the NFL, which would be concerning for a Bears team that’s seen its last top-10 receiver, Kevin White, play only five games in the last three years.
The No. 8 pick may be a shade too high for Ridley, though the same argument has been made about Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson, for what it’s worth. But maybe getting a receiver who thinks highly of the franchise and Trubisky wouldn’t exactly be a bad thing come April.