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How strongly should the Bears consider taking WR Calvin Ridley at No. 8?

ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. believes the Bears will address their need at wide receiver by taking Calvin Ridley of Alabama with the No. 8 pick of the NFL Draft. (Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS — It didn’t take long for Alabama receiver Calvin Ridley to be subjected to the media’s tradition of yelling various teams at prospects during the interview portion of the NFL Scouting Combine.

Did he meet with the Packers? Ravens? OK, fine, how about the Bears?

‘‘Tonight,’’ Ridley said of his scheduled meeting Friday with the Bears.

The Bears are evaluating receivers in this draft closely, of course. General manager Ryan Pace needs to build around quarterback Mitch Trubisky. Last season, the Bears’ receiving corps was decimated by early injuries to Cam Meredith, Kevin White and Markus Wheaton.

It’s important for the Bears to spend as much time with Ridley as possible. He is widely considered to be the best receiver in the class, though his true value might not be in the top 10. Some scouts think the second day of the draft is when the most value for receivers can be found.


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Trubisky’s presence certainly changes many aspects about the Bears, but reaching on players based on a need is dangerous. That’s particularly true for the Bears at receiver, with White — Pace’s first draft pick in 2015 — appearing in only five games in three seasons because of various serious injuries.

Overall, evaluating receivers has become problematic for NFL teams. Regardless of his injuries, it has taken White time to adjust to the NFL because of the limited routes he ran in college at West Virginia.

In the last three years, 13 receivers have been drafted in the first round. The Raiders’ Amari Cooper, another Alabama product whom Ridley considers a mentor, is the only one to be named to the Pro Bowl.

The misses at receiver stretch beyond the last three years, too. In 2013, Tavon Austin was the first receiver selected, going No. 8 to the Rams. In 2012, the Jaguars drafted Justin Blackmon No. 5 overall, and he’s out of the league after various problems.

The 2014 draft class, which included Sammy Watkins (No. 4, Bills), Mike Evans (No. 7, Buccaneers), Odell Beckham Jr. (No. 12, Giants), Brandin Cooks (No. 20, Saints) and Kelvin Benjamin (No. 28, Panthers), has been the exception. In 2011, A.J. Green (No. 4, Bengals) and Julio Jones (No. 6, Falcons) also turned into immediate stars.

It’s important that the Bears compare Ridley to the NFL’s best receivers. Is Ridley on the same level as Green or Jones? How about Watkins, Evans or Beckham?

Ridley might be the best receiver in this draft, but NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said he projects him as ‘‘predominantly a slot receiver in the NFL.’’

If a run on quarterbacks occurs early in the draft, the Bears likely will be able to select from the best at various positions, too. Their grades might dictate that other players — possibly Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick, Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith, Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward or Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson — are more worthy of the No. 8 selection than Ridley.

‘‘I feel whoever chooses me, I’m starting on that team,’’ said Ridley, who received advice about the combine from Bears safety Eddie Jackson, a former Alabama teammate. ‘‘I’m not trying to sound bold or anything; I want to be a humble guy. But I feel like whoever chooses me, I’m coming in to start and playing right away.’’

If that is the Bears, Ridley said he can envision himself connecting with Trubisky.

‘‘They’re on the rise,’’ said Ridley, who caught 63 passes for 967 yards and five touchdowns in his final season at Alabama. ‘‘They’ve got a great quarterback, and I feel like if they want to choose me, I’ll come in there and make plays right away. . . . I feel like I’ll go in there and be the ‘guy.’ ’’

Still, it’s on the Bears to decide whether Ridley should be their ‘‘guy’’ at No. 8.

Follow me on Twitter @adamjahns.