The wait spanned more than 41 hours, but Hassan Ridgeway finally heard his name called early Saturday afternoon.
“[Waiting] was rough,” Ridgeway said. “I wouldn’t put my worst enemy through that … The team that wanted me the most got me … Obviously that’s the best place you want to go to, an organization that sees you as a good fit for them too.”
The Texas defensive tackle was selected by the Indianapolis Colts with the 116th pick in the NFL draft. Ridgeway brings his talents to a defensive unit that struggled last season. The Colts ranked seventh worst in the NFL in yards allowed per game and eighth worst in points allowed per game.
“This could be a really good pick if [the Colts] can get the most out of Ridgeway,” ESPN analyst Todd McShay said during the draft broadcast. “They just got a second round talent in the fourth round. They need to develop him and keep him on the straight and narrow.”
In his breakout sophomore season at Texas, Ridgeway collected six sacks and 11 tackles for a loss, becoming an interior pass rushing threat alongside former Longhorn Malcom Brown. In part due to injury, Ridgeway had a less impressive junior campaign, finishing with 3.5 sacks and 6.5 tackles for a loss.
The 6-foot-4, 307-pound defensive tackle decided to forgo his senior season at Texas after receiving a second round grade from the NFL’s College Advisory Committee. To the surprise of many though, Ridgeway fell to the fourth round.
“As a pass rusher, he’s got to work on his hands,” McShay said. “Got a lot of work to do technically. But he’s got flashes on tape of bull rushing and overwhelming power. There’s concerns about the durability. This past year he had a shoulder injury, a back injury and an ankle injury. There’s concerns about him taking care of himself off the field too.”
Despite being picked later than expected, Ridgeway said he’s still excited by the opportunity. He said talking with Brown, who was picked in the first round of last year’s draft by the New England Patriots, put things in perspective.
“It doesn’t matter where you go,” Ridgeway said regarding what he learned from Brown. “You made it to the NFL, what are you going to do with it now. The motivation was every pick that went in front of me.”
Prior to the draft, Texas defensive coordinator Vance Bedford spoke highly of Ridgeway’s NFL potential.
“I think he has the ability to be a special talent,” Bedford said. “He’s gotten better every single week. He is a guy that is growing, developing, he’s learning how to play the football game, and I think his future could be bright.”
Ridgeway was the only Longhorn to be selected in the draft, keeping Texas from going without a draft pick for the second time in three years.
After the draft, receivers Marcus Johnson and Daje Johnson were signed as undrafted free agents by the Philadelphia Eagles and the Atlanta Falcons, respectively. Defensive end Shiro Davis was signed by the Washington Redskins. Cornerback Duke Thomas signed with the Houston Texans and kicker Nick Rose signed with the Atlanta Falcons.