NFL DRAFT 2022 // JOHN RIDGEWAY DT ARKANSAS

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PHOTO CRED: Walter Stringer
  • POSITION / DEFENSIVE TACKLE
  • HEIGHT / 6’5”
  • WEIGHT / 320 LBS
  • COLLEGE / ARKANSAS
  • CLASS / SENIOR
  • NFL COMPARISON / NAQUAN JONES
  • GAMES WATCHED / (2021) HOME TEXAS A&M, (2021) HOME TEXAS, (2021) HOME GEORGIA, (2021) HOME AUBURN

 

PHOTO CRED: dailyunion.com

 

STRENGTHS: Experience! Prior to this season with the Razorbacks, Ridgeway spent 2017-2021 at Illinois State, where he had his most productive of those seasons in the spring of 2021. In that four-game COVID-shortened season, he amassed 22 tackles, three tackles for loss, one interception, and three QB hurries. After transferring to Arkansas for a full season of solid interior line play in the SEC, he now sets his sights on the NFL. Ridgeway is a pure 3-4 nose who excels when lined up over center, where he can overpower most oppositions and push the pocket into the QB’s lap. Very powerful and has consistent hands at attack points. Rarely gets walked back in one-on-ones and will reset the line of scrimmage. Good range and quickness in space with relatively fluid hips to shed, turn, and move down the line. When he plays with excellent leverage and hand placement, he can really be a lot to contain for guards and definitely centers.

Adequate athleticism for a tackle his size who displays the effort to run down plays backside (read the play) and get through traffic. Dominates in the run game with sound intangibles when it comes to diagnosing plays and gaps. This is his bread and butter (plays where it’s big-on-big), and he can get push/penetration, read, locate, and attack gaps. Ridgeway is a raw but talented player with a lot of snaps under his belt coming out of college but, in general, he is exactly what his job description details him to be. He’s huge, strong, physical, demands a double team, and will win most one-on-ones when given the opportunity. A former two-star recruit coming out of high school who found his way to the SEC via Illinois State. What’s great for him is that he has the Senior Bowl in January and the NFL Combine in February to show NFL teams that he has the physical skills to become more than just a rotational player on the line. 

PHOTO CRED: wholehogsports.com

 

AREAS OF WORK: The biggest area of concern is his lack of a consistent base and balance. He is a split-high body type who struggles with keeping his pads too high off of the snap. These issues lead to offensive linemen having an easy time high-pin blocking him and either throwing him off balance or riding him outside of the tackle box. Struggles with keeping his feet clean and maintaining balance! Finds himself on the ground and out of the play too often for a tackle of his size and power. Not much of a knee bender off of the line and will submit to leverage quickly. If the initial strike to the chest is not effective, he has shown signs of struggling to reset his hands while still in pursuit. Once thrown off the path to the backfield, he has a bad habit of turning his back to the play and losing track of the ball. Not much of a pass rush threat at the moment, which is a little disappointing considering his age and experience. Very raw when it comes to having an arsenal of moves. Relies on bullrushes the bulk of the time he’s on the field, with a spin move as the secondary option.

Not a liability working the edges. Can get out and really move, but still has concerns getting through the traffic to make a play on the ball carrier. Didn’t see him lined up outside at 3 or 4-tech very often against SEC competition, which is reasonable considering his lack of high-end athleticism. Worked hard over the brief offseason to start rebuilding his body and getting in better shape, and there was a significant difference in 2021. Regardless, he still has a long way to go and could stand to add some muscle. The nose position is in high demand, but only for teams who run 3-4 schemes or 4-3 teams who like to run odd-man fronts often. The pure 3-4 nose, in today’s NFL, typically doesn’t crack the first round unless they are the prototypical “Dancing Bear” that can take on double teams, shed blocks, two-gap, and provide some pass rush athleticism from the 3-tech on third down if also needed. Ridgeway, at the moment, hasn’t shown the consistency in putting all of those traits together, but the size, effort, and tools are surely there.

PHOTO CRED: Arkansas Democrat Gazette

 

Edited By: Rupayan “Abs” Samanta.

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