Alabama Football: Calvin Ridley is top WR in the NFL Draft despite Tide stats

TUSCALOOSA, AL - NOVEMBER 18: Calvin Ridley /

Calvin Ridley is an NFL first rounder but not all agree he is the top WR. Ridley is being undervalued by his Alabama football career stats.

UPDATE: Calvin was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons with the No. 26 pick in the NFL Draft first round.

In terms of Alabama football wide receivers, Calvin Ridley is the second best of all-time. Ridley is second to Amari Cooper in career receptions and career touchdowns. In career receiving yards, Cooper is No. 1 and Ridley is No. 3. Unlike Cooper and Ridley, D.J. Hall played four Crimson Tide seasons, allowing him to reach No. 2 on the career receiving yards list.

A player who eclipsed Julio Jones’ Crimson Tide career has to be an NFL first-rounder. Ridley will be, but he may not be the first wide receiver drafted Thursday night.

NFL expert, Mike Mayock projects D.J. Moore as the top 2018 wide receiver. At a shade under 190 pounds, Calvin is being questioned about being an all-around receiver. Some NFL execs even doubt his talent to pull in deep balls.

The real problem, leading to a slight undervaluing of Ridley, is his Alabama football career. Alabama football did not rank high as a passing offense in 2016 and 2017. Ridley had great numbers as a freshman, catching 89 passes for over 1000 yards and seven touchdowns. That freshman season was the statistical highpoint of Calvin’s Crimson Tide career.

Nick Saban spoke about Ridley on ESPN’s Get Up 

"(Ridley’s) great coming out of a break. Can really drop his weight and separate out of a break. I know some people look at his size and say, well, we like bigger guys and all that. But this guy’s really a hard-working, very dependable receiver. Great hands, hard to cover in man-to-man and he’ll make critical catches in critical situations for you in a game. And I think his speed and quickness is pretty unique. So, I think he’s going to be an outstanding player."

2018 a ‘Soft’ NFL Draft

Another challenge for Calvin is the 2018 NFL Draft is considered ‘soft’ compared to most seasons. Peter King of spoke to one team exec who explained that team’s draft grades for 2018.

"• His team has 15 players with first-round grades.• His team has 30 to 35 players with second-round grades."

Bottom line is this one team believes only 15 of the 32 players, who will be chosen in round one, are legitimate first-round picks. Though less specific, other team execs have made similar statements. If the bottom half of the first round is populated by guys who many teams rate as second-rounders, it is very difficult to predict who goes where in picks 17-32.

Calvin Ridley could be selected by Baltimore, Dallas, New England and Carolina or other teams. He should not slide out of the first round. Already 23 years-old, Calvin has the maturity to be a stable professional and start from week one.

Check out this video on Calvin.

With so many teams questioning how ready many players are to contribute in 2018, Calvin Ridley should stand out as a sure shot. The advantages of coming out of the Alabama football program are acknowledged by NFL teams. Calvin’s slightly less than superstar, college career numbers should not cause teams any pause.

Next: Even without Ridley, Tide will be better at WR in '18

This post will be updated Thursday night after Calvin is selected in the first round. Our best guess is it will be the Ravens or Cowboys who draft him.