Cosell Fantasy Film: Calvin Ridley - 2019


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Cosell Fantasy Film: Calvin Ridley - 2019

In this series of articles, our resident tape wizard Greg Cosell will take an in-depth look at some of the more interesting fantasy players for the 2020 NFL season. It’s a peek behind the curtain of the film room, as these are Greg’s raw, unfiltered notes he takes as he watches a player.

With his massive second half of the 2019 season following the trade of Mohamed Sanu to the Patriots, Calvin Ridley is one of the hottest players in fantasy football drafts so far this year. While he’s the clear #2 target behind Julio Jones, Ridley plays with a steady veteran QB in Matt Ryan in one of the league’s most pass-heavy offenses. But does the tape show a player who can take the next step into stardom?

Games Watched

  • Vs. Eagles Week 2, vs. Texans Week 5, vs. Seahawks Week 8, vs. Panthers Week 11, vs. Bucs Week 12, vs. Saints Week 13, vs. Panthers Week 14

  • Ridley stats in games sampled: 44/658/4 (15.0 YPR, 63 targets)

Film Observations

  • Ridley lined up both outside and the slot. He was #1 to trips in 11 personnel 3x1 sets, predominantly aligning off the ball, but he predominantly aligned on the ball in 11 2x2 sets.
  • Ridley played snaps at boundary X (less frequently field X) and field Z – he was used in multiple locations and splits.
  • Ridley showed natural quickness as a route runner. There was a fluidity and smoothness to his movement. Ridley is very efficient as a “speed cut” receiver.
  • Ridley showed the short area burst and the vertical speed to get on top of off-coverage corners. A great example was his 36-yard reception in the first game against the Panthers. He ran by CB Donte Jackson, who ran a 4.32 at the Combine – Ridley ran a 4.43 at the Combine.
  • Ridley showed that he had a plan to attack and defeat press man coverage. He has excellent short-area quickness and change of direction to release cleanly off the line of scrimmage.
  • Ridley was featured on speed outs from reduced splits (reduced splits rarely result in press coverage, so he had free access off the LOS). Simple pitch-and-catch.
  • The more tape you watch of Ridley the more you see how effective he was out of reduced splits. No press coverage, clean releases, burst and speed – this helped to minimize his lack of physicality.
  • Ridley is much more of a finesse receiver. While he has desirable height, he has a lean body and is not overly physical.
  • Ridley at times flashed the ability to extend and make tough catches away from his frame both on intermediate routes and vertical routes
  • Ridley showed an understanding of how to use his vertical stem to attack leverage of corners and safeties and create separation. Look at his 34-yard reception against the Panthers in Week 11.
  • Ridley is at his best when he has free access off the line of scrimmage. It allows him to release cleanly into his vertical stem and play to his speed, with his ability to run away from coverage.
  • There were snapso on which Ridley looked very refined as a route runner with excellent separation quickness: He beat CB James Bradley in press man coverage on his 26-yard reception against the Panthers in Week 11. On his 6-yard TD in the same game, he beat Donte Jackson.
  • Ridley is not a contested-catch receiver, nor he is he physical versus press man coverage. It’s one reason he profiles much more effectively as a movement Z and slot receiver than a boundary X.
  • The offensive scheme — with various alignments, splits, and movement — must allow for Ridley to get clean releases off the LOS into his routes. That is the best tactical approach for Ridley to be most effective with his smooth, fluid, efficient route running.
  • Ridley has the skill set and traits with his smooth/explosive route running, excellent separation quickness, and vertical speed to be a high-level Z receiver.
  • Ridley can be effective at X against defenses that play a lot of zone and do not consistently press the boundary X. If he can improve against press coverage and become a little more physical, he may have a chance to develop into a quality boundary X, but that remains to be seen.

One of the preeminent NFL analysts in the country, Cosell has worked for NFL Films for over 40 years. Due to his vast knowledge of personnel and matchups based on tape study, Cosell regularly supplies us with valuable and actionable insight and intelligence that cannot be found anywhere else.