David Montgomery kicked things off a few days ago. So next in line is 4th round pick Riley Ridley. This was probably the one choice that caught a lot of people off guard. After all, the Chicago Bears had already made a notable addition to the wide receiver group in free agency with Cordarrelle Patterson. Not to mention having Javon Wims waiting in the wings. Clearly, GM Ryan Pace felt passing on him would’ve gone against his Best Player Available mantra.
Upon first glance, it doesn’t appear like Ridley is anything special. He never reached 600 yards receiving at any point in his college career. His 40 time was a pedestrian 4.58 at the scouting combine. At this point, he’s most famous for being the brother of Atlanta Falcons standout Calvin Ridley, the 1st round pick from 2018. So what fascinated the Bears so much about him.
To understand that, one must get an idea of who he might be if everything clicks. When looking at Ridley’s skill set, his temperament, and his dimensions the receiver he most closely resembles is ironically one of his brother’s teammates. That being ’85 Bears alum Dennis McKinnon.
Riley Ridley looks like an ideal future #2 wide receiver
When people talk about that great team of the mid-80s, the names that typically come up on offense were Walter Payton, Jim McMahon, Jimbo Covert, and Willie Gault. In that order. Many don’t remember McKinnon largely because he never put up gaudy numbers. Then again no Bears receiver did. Such was the nature of that run-oriented offense in those days.
Still, the receiver was highly underrated. Despite have a bad 40 time coming out of Florida State, a situation that contributed to him going undrafted, he proved there’s more to success in the NFL than speed. He had good 6’1 size, strong hands, and the route running prowess to shake defensive backs at the short and intermediate levels.
“You don’t have to run a 4.2 40 to get open in the NFL. I can attest to that,” said McKinnon, who runs a 4.7. “It’s very motivating when no one thinks you’re as good as you know you are.
“I’ve never had blazing speed or great God-given physical ability. But I get the job done. I get open and I catch just about everything that’s thrown to me.”
Every time the Bears needed a tough catch in close games, McKinnon always seemed to be the one making the play. His two touchdowns against the Giants in the 1985 divisional round were a huge catalyst for their playoff run. He was their best receiver in 1988 with over 700 yards and 4 touchdowns but his career was cut tragically short by knee injuries. Yet his style of play mirrors what the Bears have in Ridley.
Not fast but big enough, quick enough, strong enough, and tough enough. When the ball was in the air, it didn’t matter. If it was anywhere close, McKinnon was going to bring it in. Ridley exhibits that same personality. He may never be the top guy in this offense, but whenever Mitch Trubisky needs a 1st down or a big score in tight games, he’ll be looking for #88.