Georgia wide receiver Riley Ridley (8) celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the SEC Championship game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Saturday, December 1, 2018. (ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)
Photo: Alyssa Pointer
Photo: Alyssa Pointer

Bears draft Georgia’s Riley Ridley in fourth round

Ridley was the third Georgia Bulldogs player drafted in this year’s draft, after Deandre Baker (first round, New York Giants) and Mecole Hardman (second round, Kansas City Chiefs).

It was only a matter of when and with whom the Georgia football go-to receiver would catch-on after a strong junior season for the Bulldogs.

The 6-foot-1, 199-pound Ridley led Georgia with 44 catches for 579 yards and nine touchdowns in 2018, closing his career with a team-high 61 yards on five catches in the Sugar Bowl.

The younger brother of Falcons receiver Calvin Ridley, Riley is known for his strong hands and ability to match catches in traffic. 

Ridley's contested catch rate of 75 percent, as measured by Pro Football Focus, was best in the SEC. It also was significantly better than that of runner-up Jerry Jeudy of Alabama (63.6 percent). 

Former NFL scout and current NFL.com analyst Bucky Brooks took note of Ridley during film study.

“Ridley is a crafty technician with a knack for getting open and making tough catches in traffic,” Brooks wrote for NFL.com.

Indeed, Ridley grades out among the top route-runners in the nation and developed into a favorite target of quarterback Jake Fromm over the past two seasons.

Ridley said he’s flattered by comparisons with his brother, but he thinks he possesses different skills.

“I feel like we are two different receivers,” Riley Ridley said. “I’m more of a physical guy, I like to attack. I feel like my bother is more of a route-runner, not to say I don’t run good routes, but I’m more physical and I like to attack.”

Ridley’s NFL combine performance, however raised flags and likely cost him draft position.

Most notably, Ridley ran a 4.58-second time in the 40-yard dash and recorded a 30.5-inch vertical leap — both considered subpar for a wide receiver.

Ridley chose not to re-test at Georgia’s Pro Day on March 20, leaving some among the scouts and representatives from the 32 NFL teams somewhat flabbergasted.

Ridley, however, said he was at peace with his performances.

“I put my best foot forward every time I step on the field,” Ridley said at Georgia’s Pro Day. “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.” 

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