With no Texas Longhorns seniors invited to the 2016 NFL Combine, early entree defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway was the lone representative for the Longhorns in Indianapolis over the last week. And while some tests showcased his strengths, other drills illustrated his areas of weakness.
When looking at his testing results, it's worthwhile to put them in perspective when compared to other prospects at his position:
Let's parse these numbers a little bit -- at a little bit over 6'3 and 303 pounds, Ridgeway's height and weight aren't really a concern moving forward. Hand size and arm length? Two factors that are more important for quarterbacks and offensive linemen, though Ridgeway does have a little bit less ability to keep opposing linemen from getting their hands on him first because of his arm length. And so while all of those measurements could be more ideal, none of them are going to single-handedly keep him from being successful.
The true athleticism numbers are much more important. On the plus side, Ridgeway's 40-yard dash of 5.02 seconds was just behind "athletic freak" Shawn Oakman, the former Baylor defensive end.
#Texas DT Hassan Ridgeway runs 5.02 at 303-pounds at #NFLCombine pic.twitter.com/EBri4Wicnh— Gerry Hamilton (@HamiltonESPN) February 28, 2016
His broad jump nearly matched that of another "athletic freak" in Robert Nkemdiche. Where Ridgeway struggles much more athletically is in changing direction, as evidenced by his poor three-cone drill and short shuttle. In other words, Ridgeway has the athleticism to get into the backfield, but can struggle when when he has to break down re-direct.
Throw in the concerns about injuries and conditioning and there's something of a complex picture emerging of Ridgeway. On one hand, he's athletic and doesn't get blown off the ball. On the other, his production as a junior wasn't ideal and he doesn't have a lot of effective range.
So why did Ridgeway announce for the NFL Draft given those concerns? Did he make a mistake, as one NFL general manager told NFL.com and draft analyst Mike Mayock opined on Sunday? The answer to that question won't truly come until Ridgeway hears his name called in the 2016 NFL Draft, but it's worth keeping in mind that he made his decision based upon the feedback of the NFL Draft Advisory Board, which gave him a second-round draft grade. In light of that feedback, it's easy for other people to tell him that he needs to risk his health and go back to college and spend another year playing for free, in essence, but those other people don't have to live that. And they certainly don't have to give up all that money, which could amount to one million dollars or more.x
In whole, Ridgeway's performance in Indianapolis confirmed the best elements of what he put on film and also confirmed some of the worst elements that he put on film. Considering that the Advisory Board likely took all of that into account for delivering that second-round feedback, Ridgeway probably didn't do anything to help or to hurt himself over the last few days.
He's a flawed player in several important ways and must prove that he can stay healthy and play extended snaps by improving his strength and conditioning, but he won't be able to answer those questions into he gets into a camp and starts his career as a professional. So how much did he really have to gain by coming back to school?
One thing is for sure -- Ridgeway's best moments at Texas demonstrate the upside that will make him extremely appealing once the draft rolls around:
As he works out at the NFL Combine, take a look at some of Hassan Ridgeway's highlights as a Longhorn. #HookEmhttps://t.co/vHRxDJwpUf— Longhorn_FB (@Longhorn_FB) February 28, 2016
And that upside will ensure that he gets paid, even though he's competing for draft positioning against a deep group of defensive tackles.