Calvin Ridley

Bears draft Georgia wide receiver Riley Ridley with fourth round pick

Bears draft Georgia wide receiver Riley Ridley with fourth round pick

The Bears stuck with offense with their second pick of the 2019 NFL Draft, grabbing Georgia wide receiver Riley Ridley with their fourth-round pick, No. 126 overall. 

Ridley caught 44 passes for 570 yards with nine touchdowns for Georgia in 2018. Various draft analysts project him to be better in the NFL than his college production may show given his strength as a route runner, a skill that isn't always easy to find in young receivers. 

From a value perspective, getting Ridley at pick No. 126 seems like good value. The Athletic's Dane Brugler had him ranked 59th, Pro Football Focus had him ranked 71st and Rotoworld's Josh Norris ranked him 72nd and the Ringer's Danny Kelly had him No. 99. 

The Bears don't necessarily "need" a receiver right now, though Ridley projects as someone who can play an outside position in Matt Nagy's system with the flexibility to move into the slot, too. After adding running back David Montgomery with a third-round pick Saturday night, general manager Ryan Pace said he and Nagy had a vision for how they could use their new offensive weapon. Likely, they're of a similar mindset with how Ridley can fit into the Bears' offense long-term.

The Bears were high on Ridley's brother, Calvin, a year ago, and reportedly tried to trade back into the first round before the Atlanta Falcons drafted him. Calvin Ridley, too, had some good things to say about Mitch Trubisky at the 2018 NFL Combine that surely his younger brother has heard, too. 

Bears reportedly tried trading back up in the first round to select Alabama WR Calvin Ridley

Bears reportedly tried trading back up in the first round to select Alabama WR Calvin Ridley

The Bears made up for the loss of Cameron Meredith by adding a wide receiver in the second day of the NFL Draft on Friday night.

After taking Iowa center James Daniels with the 39th pick in the second round, Ryan Pace & Co. made a trade with the New England Patriots to acquire the 51st pick. The Bears selected Memphis wide receiver Anthony Miller.

But moments before the Bears made their selection, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported the Bears actually tried to trade back up into the first round on Thursday night to take Alabama wideout Calvin Ridley.

"Nothing is more important than giving Mitchell Trubisky big time targets," said Rapoport. "The Bears tried for that last night, attempting to trade up for Calvin Ridley, the Alabama receiver. Instead it was the Atlanta Falcons who took him."

Woah.

Before the Bears signed Allen Robinson, some early mock drafts had Ridley going to Chicago with the No. 8 pick. That obviously changed.

But when Ridley continued to fall in the draft — eventually to the Falcons at No. 26 — it makes sense why the Bears would check in to see if they could make it a possibility.

In the end, Miller is the guy who will be wearing blue and orange. And if you've seen any Bears press conferences, I'm sure Pace will say he's fired up about that.

Alabama's Calvin Ridley sure sounds like he wants to be drafted by the Bears

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USA Today

Alabama's Calvin Ridley sure sounds like he wants to be drafted by the Bears

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:

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. 

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.