Why John Ridgway is a ‘unique pick’ for Dallas

Frisco, Texas – John Ridgway called her. somewhat.

Last October, after the University of Arkansas ended a nine-game losing streak against Texas A&M at A&T Stadium, Ridgway met Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones briefly on the field as notable Razorbacks alumni presented the team’s Southwest Classic trophy.

“It was great,” said Ridgway. “I told him then and there, ‘You have to recruit me. Watch, and I’ll Acquire the Dallas Cowboys. “

He looked at me and smiled and said, ‘Woo Big. “

Six months later, the 23-year-old defensive tackle is actually a Cowboys, drafted in the fifth round with the 178th overall pick.

In fact, the Arkansas connection means almost nothing to the Cowboys draft process. Ridgway is the second Arkansas player drafted by Dallas. The first, Felix Jones, arrived in 2008—nearly 20 years after Jones purchased the franchise.

The biggest reason for drafting Ridgeway isn’t the school he attended. It’s the measurements on his school resume:

The Cowboys are looking to bolster their defense while running, and they’ve turned toward larger defensive inner line men in the past two drafts. Last year’s sixth-round pick Quinton Bohanna (6-4, 327) played nearly 20% of the picks as a rookie, scoring 12 tackles and one press. Ridgeway will have a chance to compete for a spot in the early touchdowns, too.

In 2020, the Cowboys had the second most dash arenas in franchise history (2,541). The past year has seen a marked improvement under new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. Defense

He finished the race in 16th place, giving up 1,918 yards, and jumped from 28th to seventh in points allowed per game (21.1).

But the final picture of the 2021 season was the first-round loss of the playoffs to San Francisco, with the second 49ers making the most fast yards against Dallas all season (169).

Defending running remains pivotal this season, and perhaps Ridgeway could emerge as part of the solution.

“It’s a unique choice for us, for the way we pick up most years with the Dallas Cowboys,” Jones said right after the draft. “We usually have less volume and more speed. Pohana has that, but of course it’s taller with volume.

“I’m really good (with the selection) because with our defense against the running game I always held my breath when I got to be a big boy there. That’s a real statement on my mind with Dan and (head coach) Mike (McCarthy) in terms of how to approach the running game when We go into playoffs, which we definitely enjoy.

“Mike has been sitting there all day,” qualifiers, qualifiers. Remember the playoffs. “This is really not only a great choice, but also a hell of a competitor.”

Ridgeway has 141 tackles (12 for a loss) in 42 career college games in Arkansas and Illinois State. He moved to Arkansas in 2021 where he started 11 games as a game on the defensive front.

Ridgway said he spoke with the Senior Bowl Cowboys in January and the NFL Combine in March. And, of course, there was that brief visit with Jones last October, when Ridgway predicted he would wear a star on his helmet.

Now he will try to earn a spot in the squad this spring and summer.

“They will see the most serious D-lineman on the field every time,” he said. “That is the plan.”

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