It was a drop I didn’t quite understand on draft night. Alabama’s Calvin Ridley had been expected to be the first wide receiver off the draft board for just about all of the college football season. Even before that. Take it back to his freshman year in 2015 in the SEC championship game vs Florida when he torched upperclassmen Vernon Hargreaves and Marcus Maye. Watching that game most people were thinking: “This kid is going to be a high first round draft pick”.
Most people and most fans over the winter still at these thoughts and believed him to be the top 12-15 range in April’s draft. And for some reason they all just dropped off. Especially Raven fans. In November and December, Baltimore fans loved the idea of drafting the wide out with the 16th overall selection early in the college football season. Most fans didn’t even visualize Ridley lasting to the 16th overall selection. Much like Corey Davis didn’t last the year before. But the month or so leading up to the draft, just about everyone jumped ship. Maybe it was his age? Maybe it was his combine performance? Maybe it was a combination of the two. But the Ravens had the opportunity to take the receiver after they traded down twice in the first round. The question I have now is: Will they regret not taking Calvin Ridley with the 25th overall selection?
As we head into the fifth week of the NFL season, Ridley leads the league with six touchdown receptions. Raven fans must be wondering, is this another guy that we can add to the list of what ifs? The list of wide receivers over the past five years that the Ravens brass decided to pass on. The Juju Schuster’s, the Stefon Diggs’, the Allen Robinson’s, The Michael Thomas’. Is Calvin Ridley next on that list?
It’s no question that Ozzie Newsome has had a Hall of Fame career as general manager. But, in 22 years as the guy in charge, the wide receiver position is something he just hasn’t been able to figure out. He’s never drafted a pro bowl wide receiver. Its like a curse that hangs over his head. In his last year before he steps down and hands over the torch to Eric Decosta, did he drop the ball on finally being able to cross that off his list? Did fate get things wrong for the Ravens, again? Stefon Diggs was Baltimore born and bred. He played right down I-90 for the Maryland Terrapins and Calvin Ridley played for The Crimson Tide, a college team that is basically a triple A squad for Baltimore with the way the Ravens draft players from that program. And in both instances, fate and Ozzie Newsome got it wrong.
The Ravens aren’t in dire need of pass catchers like they were a season ago. They did add three veterans in Michael Crabtree, John Brown and Willie Snead IV. One might say those guys are just short-term solutions, not long ones for the future in Baltimore. John Brown is on a one-year contract. And both Crabtree and Snead are on two-year deals. So, while it’s nice to enjoy the way this offense has been looking thru the first four games, its very possible that Eric Decosta will have to revisit the wide receiver position in a year or two, when they could have had their WR1 for the foreseeable future in the 2018 draft.
It may be a little early to ask these questions. Not only because we are only four games into Ridley’s career, it’s also unfair to first round draft pick, Hayden Hurst. The player drafted a pick before Ridley and a player who hasn’t even had the chance to play a regular season down, due to injury. But coming back from that injury that he sustained during the preseason, there is going to be added pressure for him to succeed and be an added weapon for this already impressive offense. Something Ridley certainly would have been at this point. The Ravens could have had Calvin Ridley and Mark Andrews. The future at both the wide receiver and tight end positions. But only time will tell if there is any regret and if they made the right selection.