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Calvin Ridley to No. 16? Ravens' pipe dream is suddenly a possibility

Calvin Ridley impressed with his speed at the NFL combine, but his jumping ability drew concerns. Matt Bush/USA TODAY Sports

If you had projected Calvin Ridley to go to the Baltimore Ravens in the first round last month, you'd be accused of being overly optimistic.

After the NFL combine, the Ravens' chances of landing the draft's No. 1 wide receiver doesn't seem so crazy after all.

Ridley's mixed reviews in Indianapolis could cause him to fall out of the top 10 and land right to Baltimore at the No. 16 overall pick. This would certainly be fortuitous for the Ravens to address their biggest need with the top player available at that position.

Ridley is a smooth route runner who creates separation to get open and possesses speed to run away from defenders after the catch. He finished his career second in Alabama history with 224 receptions and 19 touchdown catches.

But Ridley's broad jump (9 feet, 2 inches) was the worst among participating wide receivers at the combine, and his vertical jump (31 inches) was fifth lowest. Those numbers are concerning at a position where explosiveness is key.

"I just want to let [NFL teams] know I am the guy," Ridley said at the combine, "and I will come in from day one and play and work hard and be my best."

He did run a strong 40-yard dash (4.43 seconds), but that has to be balanced out by questions about his age (he will turn 24 in December) and his size (189 pounds). The growing sentiment is that Ridley remains the best wide receiver of this draft class. He's just being viewed now as a top-20 talent rather than a top-10 one.

"I know I'm not the biggest guy, but that doesn't matter," Ridley said. "I'm a ballplayer. I make plays. I'm going to make plays regardless."

Ridley follows Julio Jones and Amari Cooper as standout Alabama wide receivers, but he's viewed as a notch below them. He has been heavily linked to the Chicago Bears (No. 8 overall). In recent mock drafts, he has gone to the San Francisco 49ers (No. 9), Miami Dolphins (No. 11), Washington Redskins (No. 13) and Arizona Cardinals (No. 15).

It was originally believed that the Ravens would need to trade up to get Ridley. Now, it might be Ridley as the one who falls to Baltimore.

The Ravens met with him at the NFL combine, according to Ridley.

Baltimore needs to do homework on all the receivers. The team could be without its top three receivers from last year if it doesn't re-sign Mike Wallace, doesn't retain Breshad Perriman and does cut Jeremy Maclin before the start of the regular season.

Ridley is the only wide receiver repeatedly projected to go in the first round. The run on receivers is expected to begin in the second round and might include Maryland's D.J. Moore; SMU'S Courtland Sutton; Texas A&M's Christian Kirk; Notre Dame's Equanimeous St. Brown; Oklahoma State's James Washington; and Colorado State's Michael Gallup.

Reporters asked Ridley at the combine whether he was the best receiver in this draft class.

"Yes, sir," Ridley said.

There is risk involved, even at the top of that position. Ridley was reminded about how many busts there were in the first round last year, and he didn't appear worried.

“I feel like I’m starting on that team," Ridley said, "and I’m not trying to sound bold or anything -- I want to be the humble guy -- but I feel like whoever chooses me, I’m coming in and starting and playing right away."