The NFL deadline for players declaring to enter the 2018 NFL Draft is next Monday, and in the meantime, some big names are making the expected official. On Wednesday, Alabama wide receiver Calvin Ridley tweeted he will forego his remaining eligibility and enter the draft.
The draft is still over three months away, but Ridley is already being projected as a first round pick. I’ve seen him anywhere from the San Francisco 49ers at No. 9 to the Baltimore Ravens at No. 16. SB Nation’s Dan Kadar had him ninth to the 49ers in his mock draft earlier this week. He pointed to his stellar route-running and short area explosiveness, with age (24) being the biggest drawback.
The 49ers do have a long-term need at wide receiver, but it’s hard to tell if they’re ready to make a big investment this year. Former NFL wide receiver Andrew Hawkins played for Kyle Shanahan during their respective time with the Cleveland Browns. He told the 49ers Studios crew that Shanahan does not need a big-time No. 1 receiver. He talked about the importance of a speedy option, a tough guy over the middle, and a third down option with great hands and can move the sticks.
That all makes sense, but I think we can all agree Shanahan would not turn down a pure No. 1 receiver. Shanahan’s time in Atlanta showed what he could do with a No. 1 receiver like Julio Jones. I’m not saying Ridley will be like Jones, but wide receiver could very well still end up high on the 49ers radar sooner rather than later.