College Sports

Who is Riley Ridley, the Georgia Bulldogs wide receiver drafted by the Chicago Bears?

Georgia receiver Riley Ridley’s gamble to declare early for the NFL Draft paid off.
Georgia receiver Riley Ridley’s gamble to declare early for the NFL Draft paid off. AP

Riley Ridley took what some considered a gamble when he declared early for the 2019 NFL Draft. He had the skillset and the potential to make it as an NFL wide receiver. The production in college, however, didn’t necessarily match that of the top receivers in the draft class.

That gamble paid off when the Chicago Bears selected the Georgia Bulldogs wide receiver and Deerfield Beach High alumnus with the 24th overall pick in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft — No. 126 overall — on Saturday.

Ridley finished his three-year college career at UGA with 70 catches for 1,026 yards and 13 touchdowns. He was his most productive last season, hauling in 44 catches for 570 yards and nine touchdowns as Georgia won the SEC East but lost in the conference championship game to Alabama to miss out on a second consecutive berth in the college football playoff.

NFL Draft analyst Lance Zierlein described Ridley as a “physical possession receiver who wins with attention to detail in his routes, plus body control and sure hands. Ridley isn’t the fastest receiver on the block, but there is enough under the engine to race cornerbacks down the field if he’s challenged on an island. His separation windows may always be a little tighter, but his timing and ability to turn contested catches in his favor should make him a better pro than college player with an upside of WR2.

He now also joins his older brother, Calvin, in the NFL. Calvin Ridley went 26th overall to the Atlanta Falcons in the 2018 NFL Draft and led all rookies with 821 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns.

Ridley is the seventh pick from Broward County already in 2019. He joins Chaminade-Madonna’s Marquise Brown, Miramar’s Yodny Cajuste, St. Thomas Aquinas’ Nick Bosa, Plantation American Heritage’s Brian Burns, Flanagan’s Devin Bush and Coconut Creek’s Trayvon Mullen.