For the eighth day in a row, we’re blessed with another member of the defensive front for our countdown to the NFL season — defensive tackle and No. 91 Hassan Ridgeway. However, if 91 days sounds too overbearing, we’re just 13 Sundays away from being graced with Indianapolis football.
A former Longhorn, Ridgeway spent the 2013-2015 seasons in Texas. While there, he added up 108 tackles, 17.5 tackles for loss, nine and a half sacks and a touchdown off a fumble recovery. His best year came as a sophomore, however nagging injuries prevented him for improving upon that in his final year at college.
In preparation for the draft, Ridgeway was described on a draft profile on NFL.com as a “talented interior pass rusher” but someone who has had conditioning issues throughout his career as an athlete. Selected in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL, Ridgeway became a member of the Colts in the last draft process of Ryan Grigson’s tenure. In two seasons, Ridgeway started six games in 29 appearances and compiled 13 tackles, 4.5 sacks and one safety.
The Fit on the Roster
Of the pure defensive tackles listed on the roster, Ridgeway is the only one who belongs to the Ryan Grigson regime. He does have the most experience with the Colts of the bunch, but not in terms of production. Ridgeway started only one game in the previous season and was a no-show in three of the regular season games.
In terms of size, Ridgeway stands in the middle of the pack at 305, but is still much lighter than the likes of Al Woods and Grover Stewart. At the age of 23, there is still hope for Ridgeway to break through — but with Ballard drafting two defensive linemen in the second round, the clock may be ticking on Ridgeway’s chance to make his name known.
In a jumbled defensive front, Ridgeway needs to take a large step of improvement this season for the Colts if he wants to stay with the organization beyond the 2018 campaign. Ridgeway isn't one of GM Chris Ballard’s “guys” — his belonging to the prior regime in Indianapolis may make his stint short-lived if he fails to make a seamless transition to the new defensive scheme.
Ridgeway has not yet proven he’s capable to serve as a starter in the NFL, slotting him as a reserve role in the “3-technique” defensive tackle position. While I believe he will fail to earn a starting role, a reserve position may be best for him regarding the main concern about his play — conditioning. It’s tough to keep Ridgeway on the field for a series of plays, so having him serve as an interior presence in the passing game is best for him as the 2018 season approaches.