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The pros and cons of the Cowboys drafting Calvin Ridley

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Would it be a good idea or a bad idea for the Cowboys to draft Calvin Ridley?

NCAA Football: Mercer at Alabama Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports

Yes, it’s the opening of free agency today, but the 2018 NFL Draft is rapidly approaching and the Dallas Cowboys could really do a variety of things when the event nears. They could look to shore up the defense by adding an interior lineman. They could look to add a player in the secondary who could create turnovers. With the news of Anthony Hitchens moving to Kansas City, they could also look for an athletic linebacker to pair with Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith.

They could also trade the pick. Because of their positioning, there is a chance that all of the players they grade as a first-round pick could be gone so they could move back and stockpile draft picks. They could also be aggressive and trade up for a specific person if they decide that he is the guy.

Then, there is the receiver position. Despite the fact that the Cowboys have given second contracts to Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, and Cole Beasley, there is still a possibility that the Cowboys could look to add another weapon to the offense off Dak Prescott. Dallas’ front office has made it clear that they want the offense to become more “Dak-friendly.” Perhaps by drafting a receiver early, they hit on that goal.

In terms of the receiver prospects in this class, one of the more talked-about players is Alabama’s Calvin Ridley. A five-star recruit out of high school and the No. 1 overall receiver, Ridley has certainly been a name NFL scouts and personnel have had their eyes on.

What does Ridley do well?

Coming from a historically run-first offense at Alabama, Ridley’s college production may not be on par with the other top receivers in this year’s draft class. However, Ridley is a spectacular route-runner whose ability to win both inside and outside will help him translate well into an NFL offense.

On top of his ability to get open, he has awesome hands and can make plays at any level of the defense. On tape, he clearly has a high football IQ and can find open areas of a defense. He is precise with his movements, giving ample space for his quarterback to throw the ball in his direction.

What does Ridley struggle with?

Despite game tape helping his cause, Ridley’s performance at the combine was not particularly impressive. He struggled in the combine, failing to impress in any specific combine event. Ridley’s 40-yard dash was fine, but his performances in the 3-cone drill, vertical jump, or the 20-yard shuttle all were worrisome, whereas receiver prospects like Maryland’s D.J. Moore and Texas Tech’s Dylan Cantrell put on shows.

In college, Ridley was able to beat cornerbacks through subtle movements. With stronger and faster cornerbacks in the NFL, Ridley will need to add muscle to his frame to continue to win at the line of scrimmage. There is some improvement he can make towards his ability at the catch point. It should also be worth mentioning that Ridley had a tendency to drop passes during his collegiate career. Keep in mind that he will also turn 24 in his rookie year.

Pros of the Cowboys drafting him

We talked a little bit earlier about making this offense more Dak-friendly. Adding a guy like Ridley could be a part of the solution to that quest. Because of their inability to sustain drives in 2017, the Cowboys may need to add another element in their offense to regain their 2016 form.

It may be adding certain wrinkles to the play-calling, or it could be another talented receiver to command attention from opposing secondaries and take attention away from guys like Bryant on the outside and Beasley in the inside.

Examine the idea of pairing Bryant with Ridley. It could give the Cowboys two alpha pass-catching prospects. With just Bryant, Williams, and Beasley, 2017 was a step back for this offense. It may be a pick of valuing preference over need, but adding Ridley could make this offense much more dangerous.

Cons of the Cowboys drafting him

For starters, the reality is that wide receivers who are drafted in the first round usually struggle in their first seasons in the NFL. Sure there are stories like Michael Thomas and Odell Beckham Jr. who took the league by storm in their first seasons, but that is just two cases. In the 2017 NFL Draft, there were three receivers (Corey Davis, Mike Williams, John Ross) taken in the top ten. There were injuries involved, but none of them were huge contributors.

Ridley may be a different story because of the fact that he played at Alabama and ran a complete route tree in their offense. But there is a still a worry about how well he could adapt to an NFL playbook playing against NFL secondaries from the get-go.

Dallas also has a lot of money tied up in the receiver position. This could obviously change given what they decide to do with Bryant and his contract. Rather than drafting a position where the Cowboys already have established resources, Dallas should look to address a position of need. There are many on this roster and if the Cowboys want to reach their aspirations, those holes must be filled.

Should the Cowboys use the 19th overall pick on Calvin Ridley?

No.

Would you draft Ridley? Tell us why you would or would not in the comments section.