After falling to round four and struggling as a rookie, it is hard for the Chicago Bears to trust in Riley Ridley.
Many Chicago Bears fans are hoping for a second-year breakout from Riley Ridley. After spending a season as a depth receiver, there are open targets available with Taylor Gabriel gone. The question is whether or not Ridley is ready to make the step.
Ridley had just six receptions for 69 yards as a rookie. That came after being drafted 126th overall in the fourth round. The reality is that not many receivers breakout after being so far down the depth chart as a rookie, and not many drafted on Day three find success either.
Combining a receiver who was drafted outside of the top 100, and that did not put up at least ten receptions and 100 yards as a rookie creates a meager rate of successes.
Since the evolution of the passing game has emerged in recent years, we will only go back to the year 2000. Still, since then, we have 247 receivers drafted outside of the top 100 picks of the NFL draft. Like Ridley, all of these players fell for a variety of reasons.
Of those 247, there were 65 who caught more than ten passes for 100 yards as a rookie. There are 182 players, like Ridley, who failed to show any success as a rookie after failing to be drafted in the first three rounds.
Of those 182 names, the most successful careers were Pierre Garcon, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Jericho Cotchery, Kevin Walter, Patrick Crayton, Jason Avant, Steve Breaston, Mike Thomas, Shaun McDonald, Cecil Shorts, Arnaz Battle, Riley Cooper, and Ronald Curry.
Those 13 were the only receivers to meet the draft and rookie year qualifications of Riley and go on to record over 1,500 career receiving yards. There have been 53 receivers to hit 1,500 yards after being drafted in round four or later. Forty of them had over ten catches for 100 yards as a rookie, showing at least some positivity after their low draft stock.
Lastly, we will look into college market share. Market share is a great way to look at college-wide receivers because receivers can fail to put up volume stats due to quarterback play. However, dominant receivers will get a higher percentage of the targets than their teammates.
Ridley posted a 22% dominator rating at Georgia. They were run first, but even when they threw, Ridley was a secondary option. In fact, he was behind Javon Wims at Georgia, just like he was as a rookie.
Below you can see a list of 334 wide receivers drafted in the past 20 years with a dominator rating below 25%. There were 10 to qualify as hits, a 2.9% hit rate.
One thing you will notice if you look carefully enough is that not one single player of the 13 listed as hits are on it. All of them dominated at the college ranks and saw a higher rate of the teams passing success than Riley Ridley. The only one who did not post over 25% was Ronald Curry because he was a quarterback in college.
So, to recap, of 247 receivers drafted outside of the top 100 picks, there is a 22% chance to find success in the NFL by way of over 1,500 career receiving yards, a lower than average bar.
Still, of those, he is in a group of just 13 that did not find success in their rookie season of any sort. That takes his chances of real NFL success down to 5.3%. If Javon Wims were to hit 1,500 career yards, he would be one of the 5.3% chances, as he at least was a primary target at Georgia.
Lastly, we realize that one of those 13 did not have more than 25% of the teams receiving production. We are even considerate because that one played quarterback.
The odds lose sometimes, but they are a good way of setting expectations so that you are unlikely to be burnt. When you are looking to find success in the NFL for a wide receiver who did not produce in college, fell in the draft, and did not produce as a rookie, you are looking at 0.4% chance that this player is going to amount to much of anything in the NFL.
To cap it off for Ridley, you are talking about a player who saw six special teams snaps and drew a penalty on one. Overall, the bar is not high for Ridley, but the chances of him clearing them are even lower. You do not want to write off Ridley after one year, but nothing from his college career through today suggests an NFL career.