Scientists familiar with the Earth’s history have isolated the Brunhes-Matuyama reversal (780,000 years ago) as the last time the magnetic north and south flipped, but the polarity of Riley Ridley’s prospects as an NFL wideout is threatening to turn the world on its head again.
There’s no doubt that Ridley possesses some tantalizing skills. He’s quick off the line, makes decisive in-route cuts, and has a tremendous ability to adjust to poorly thrown balls. With the game on the line and six yards to gain, the smart play would be to call a hitch to Ridley. Game over.
The issue isn’t with all of the things that Ridley does, but with the negative space that exists in his game. He does not gain yardage after the catch consistently, even though he does have the strength to gain tough first downs. While Ridley does work the middle of the field well against zone coverage, his routes versus man are more complicated. He creates separation early and easily, but Ridley loses that separation just as easily— defenders close the gap on him at an alarming rate. (This poses a bigger problem, since he is less than stellar in traffic.)
The battle over Ridley rages on in hotly contested pockets of knuckle-dragging Tape Grinders versus virgin Data Nerds, but it looks like Ridley is destined to be a team’s wide receiver two at best. And that’s a negative.