Before they traded up to draft Anthony Miller last year, the Bears considered moving back into the first round to select receiver Calvin Ridley.
A year later, the Bears got their Ridley. With their fourth-round pick Saturday, they drafted Georgia receiver Riley Ridley, Calvin’s younger brother.
The Bears see value in giving quarterback Mitch Trubisky another weapon. But general manager Ryan Pace said he chose Ridley because he was “truly, by far, the best player on our board,” regardless of position, at No. 126 overall.
It’s unfair to compare anyone to the Alabama star who went 100 spots earlier to the Falcons last year and caught 10 touchdown passes as a rookie. But the Bears saw some of Calvin’s precision in his little brother’s route-running.
The 6-1, 199-pounder isn’t a speedster, but he caught 43 passes for 559 yards and nine touchdowns as a junior before leaving Georgia early.
“He has a savviness to him to know how to set guys up,” Pace said. “For as big as he is, he knows how to drop his weight and quickly get out of break points. So when you’re watching him, you consistently see him separating from man coverage.”
Ridley, who trained with Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco this offseason, shares his big brother’s athleticism. He catches the ball away from his chest with soft hands. When he visited the Bears for one of their 30 league-approved visits, Pace asked Ridley about catching 50/50 balls.
“One of his quotes was, ‘I’m not a 50/50 guy — I win all of them,’ ’’ Pace said. “So that’s kind of his mindset. When the ball is in the air, he’s going to win it.”
The Ridleys watched the draft from their home in Palm Springs, Florida. Calvin Ridley called the Bears “the best organization that there could be,” his brother said.
“My brother is extremely happy,” Riley Ridley said. “When you have an older brother that told me things and to be positive, and then you’re able to fulfill some of those things, it’s incredible to see a smile on his face. My mom, I mean at this point right now, just to have two boys into the NFL, it’s incredible.”
He was featured on “Good Morning America” last week and praised his mother, Kassna Daniels, who raised four boys after their father, the family said, was deported to Guyana in 2001. Riley and Calvin spent years in foster care as boys; Calvin made that facility in Coconut Creek, Florida, a charity cause last year.
“Her showing the world, showing her kids, showing her family that she can support her kids and sacrificing the things she had to sacrifice . . .” he said. “It was incredible, man.”
Ridley valued the family atmosphere he saw when he visited the Bears.
“They didn’t treat it like they were all business,” Ridley said. “They want to treat it like you’re a family when you’re in Chicago with the Bears organization. When I got there, that’s exactly how I felt.”
He’ll see some familiar faces at Halas Hall. Ridley played alongside inside linebacker Roquan Smith, the Bears’ first-round pick last year, and receiver Javon Wims, their seventh-rounder in the same draft. Pace picked another Georgia alum, outside linebacker Leonard Floyd, in the first round of the 2016 draft.
The Bears’ fourth Bulldog will compete with Wims for the team’s fourth receiver job, behind Allen Robinson, Miller and Taylor Gabriel.
“He has confidence,” coach Matt Nagy said. “And when he was in here with us — just talking to him, with where he’s at and what he believes in himself and what he can do — we like that. And as Ryan said, he was sitting at a great spot for us.
“He does nothing but create competition. And all of our guys are going to be ready for it.”