Why Mel Kiper Expects Ravens to Pass on Wide Receiver Calvin Ridley

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Calvin Ridley is widely regarded as the top receiver prospect in this year's draft.

But that doesn't necessarily mean he'll come off the board early.

ESPN's draft analyst Mel Kiper said that Ridley is more likely to get drafted late in the first round, and that the Ravens should go a different direction even if he's on the board at No. 16.

"I just don't see Ridley anymore as a top 10-15 guy," Kiper said. "Remember, they were talking about No. 8 to Chicago, maybe to Arizona at 15, Baltimore at 16 – it wouldn't be a surprise if he went in the middle of the first, but I'm thinking more in that 20-32 range."

Ridley's draft stock has seemed to take a hit in the last few weeks. He was once regarded as a player who may not make it to the Ravens in the middle of the first round, but an underwhelming performance at the NFL Scouting Combine has draft analysts pointing out the holes in his resume.

He was a middle-of-the-road performer in many of the Combine drills, raising questions about his explosiveness. He also has a small frame, measuring in a 6-foot-0 and 189 pounds.

Ridley's Combine showing has been contrasted with Maryland receiver D.J. Moore's performance, which firmly put him in the first-round conversation. Moore had the best broad jump of any receiver, and was among the three best receivers in the vertical jump, 20-yard shuttle and 60-yard shuttle.

That showing, plus a stellar workout at Maryland's pro day that had scouts "giddy," has Kiper questioning whether Moore is actually the better NFL prospect. 

"They're vying for the top spot at wide receiver," Kiper said.

Kiper partially attributed the hit Ridley has taken to the fact that he's an underclassmen. He declared for the NFL Draft after his junior season, and Kiper said that underclassmen's stock typically takes a bigger hit if they don't test as well during the pre-draft process. 

Ridley also didn't have the best junior season. He caught 63 passes for 967 yards and five touchdowns, which was a step back from what he did as a freshman in 2015 when he put up 1,045 receiving yards on 89 catches.

Ridley didn't have a big-time NFL prospect throwing him passes the last two years, but Kiper pointed out that Moore caught passes from four different quarterbacks last year and still had 80 catches for 1,033 yards. 

"Ridley didn't compare to D.J. Moore, numbers wise, and you say, 'OK, what if Moore had been at Alabama?' That's what you always have to do," Kiper said. "Put him at Alabama and say, 'What would he have been doing?'"

Kiper does expect Ridley and Moore to both get drafted in the first round, and they could be targets for the Ravens if they trade back. Even though Ridley's game is getting picked apart now, he has the skills to develop into a playmaker at the NFL level, and the Ravens are still in the market to upgrade their receiving corps.

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