Calvin Ridley didn’t have much fun at the NFL Combine, but he felt right at home Wednesday afternoon during Alabama’s Pro Day at the Hank Crisp Indoor facility.
It’s not that job interviews should be fun per se, but Ridley didn’t particularly enjoy himself in Indianapolis over the weekend. Mainly, he didn’t run the time he wanted in the 40-yard dash.
Ridley was one of 19 former Alabama who participated in front of all 32 NFL teams. Among those in attendance included New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia, Cincinnati Bengals coach Marvin Lewis and Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel.
“That week is kind of tough,” Ridley said. “I’m real tired. I was trying to get ready for my 40, which I was upset about too. I didn’t have a good Combine like I wanted to, but I’m very happy right now. I know I’m going to be in a great position.”
In his mind, Ridley wanted to go to the Combine, run the 40, interview with teams and go home. But he took place in a variety of drills, including the broad jump, which served as the focus of Ridley’s annoyance.
I’m not going to get into a wide receiver’s stance and broad jump before I run a route,” Ridley said jokingly.
UA coach Nick Saban said Ridley is a safe pick for any NFL club.
“He certainly ran well at the Combine. His production here has been fantastic,” Saban said. “He’s got enough speed to get on top of people. He’s got great one-step quickness out of the break. He doesn’t take long to accelerate coming out of the break. He’s got really good hands, and he’s been a consistent performer. He’s tough. I don’t think he has a lot of downside, and I think he can play all the positions, outside and inside.”
Ridley said he’s got one simple pitch for why teams should draft him.
“I am the best,” he said. “You’re going to get a good player in me. I’m going to come in and work hard. I’m coming in to play right away.”
Ridley is projected as a first-round selected along with Minkah Fitzpatrick, Da’Ron Payne and Rashaan Evans. Fitzpatrick’s and Evans’ stock is bolstered by the fact they can play multiple positions.
“The more things that you can do from a versatility standpoint creates value for you in terms of the roles that you can play for any team, especially in the NFL, where you have a limited roster,” Saban said. “Guys might have to play multiple roles if somebody gets injured or something like that. I think the versatility is a huge advantage for them.”
Evans has chosen not to run the 40-yard dash in scouting events – he injured his groin in September during the Florida State game. Alabama has a second Pro Day scheduled for March 28.
Saban talked up his inside/outside linebacker.
“Rashaan’s been a fantastic player for us,” he said. “He’s always been a good person. He’s been a good leader. He’s always set a good example in terms of the things that he’s done. He was a very productive player for us. I can’t say enough good things about what he’s done in terms of his contribution to the program on and off the field.”
Wednesday’s event was a chance for players not invited to the Combine to get to showcase their skills.
“I think when we have these kind of days we attract more people because we have good players, which also helps the sort of next level guys get a chance to get exposure,” Saban said. “A lot of people look at them. That’s probably a good thing for guys who weren’t in the Combine. It usually doesn’t fall so close on the calendar to the combine, but the way spring break is this year it kind of worked at that way.”
Reach Aaron Suttles at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 205-722-0229.