NT John Ridgeway, Arkansas

6’6” – 320 lbs.

Background:

Spent the first four seasons of his career at Illinois St., redshirting before taking over the starting role the following year and posting 30-2.0-1.0. Put together a 50-3.0-0.0 line as a sophomore, then 22-3.0-0.0 over four games in the shortened 2020 season. Transferred to Arkansas and went 39-4.0-2.0 in his sole season with the Razorbacks.

Positives:

Productive four-year starter who showed this past season that he is capable of holding up against a high level of competition. Massive defensive lineman who played the zero technique in Arkansas’ odd base defense. Plays the game with toughness and physicality; wasn’t asked to play a ton of snaps, but appeared well-conditioned for his size. Comes out of his stance low and begins snaps with a good pad level for his size. Surprisingly flexible for his size, with good knee bend. Overall functional strength is very good. Has a strong anchor to hold the point of attack and eat space in the middle as a two-gapper. High level of activity in his hand use, with some violence in his hands to discard blockers. Offers a wide tackling radius. Able to make a mess in the middle near the goal line.

Negatives:

Production prior to this season came against a significantly lower level of competition. Significantly taller than your typical nose tackle; could be considered a potential five-technique by some teams, but didn’t see him play there during the games reviewed. Played a limited number of snaps, often rotating off the field on passing downs; projects as an early-down run stuffer who doesn’t offer too much as a rusher, having recorded just three career sacks. Can get preoccupied with blocks and end up having some trouble locating the ball. Still developing his play recognition skills and can occasionally flow away from the play direction. Needs to be more consistent about keeping his shoulders square and getting more consistent extension with his arms. Lets opponents attack his shoulder and/or get into his pads, causing him to have some balance issues from time to time.

Summary:

A fifth-year senior who is still honing his instincts and technique after spending four years at a small school, but who also has rare size and has shown that he’s strong enough to line up over the center and hold the point of attack in the run game. Could end up working his way into a defensive line rotation as an early-down run stuffer for an odd front which uses two-gap principles, although his value in the passing game appears low.

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