When the Falcons drafted Calvin Ridley 26th overall in 2018, fans jumped for joy as Matt Ryan finally had a legit weapon to pair with Julio Jones. Ridley was touted as a possible top ten pick. Him falling all the way to 26 was confusing, especially after an electric rookie season where he scored 10 touchdowns. Entering his third season, Ridley has a lot to prove still, but he has tons of support from his team and the Falcons fan-base. Welcome to the first Atlanta Falcons Player Profile, where we dive into the history and the projection for several Falcons players in 2020.
In this article, we’ll cover WR Calvin Ridley. So, without further ado, let’s jump in.
Ridley was a stud at Alabama. Putting him in the conversation as a possible top ten pick. In his freshman season, he recorded 1000 yards and 7 touchdowns. While Ridley cooled down in his sophomore season, he once again exploded in his junior season. Despite not breaking 1000 yards, he averaged 15.3 yards a catch, which was eye-popping for only 63 catches.
Ridley ended up falling all the way to 26th overall, where the Falcons wasted no time adding their 2nd Alabama WR to the roster. Immediately, Falcons fans thought that if this kid was anywhere near as good as the first Alabama WR the Falcons drafted, they’d gotten a steal.
As mentioned previously, Ridley bursted onto the scene in his first season. After going catch-less in his debut, Ridley recorded two touchdowns in week 2 against the Panthers, before decimating the New Orleans Saints in week 3 with 3 touchdowns and 146 yards. Ridley proved dominant against the Saints once again later that season with a 93 yard, 1 touchdown performance in Week 11. Ridley finished his rookie season with 821 yards and 10 touchdowns on 64 catches, with only 5 starts to his name.
With Ridley finally looking to establish himself as the number two receiver over Mohammed Sanu, expectations were high for Ridley in year 2. Despite the Falcons faltering early, Ridley improved in almost every facet. He was averaging more catches, yards and touchdowns than his first season. What was especially surprising was his last four games.
Here are the gamelogs:
Carolina: 8 catches, 143 yards, 1 touchdown
Tampa Bay: 6 catches, 85 yards, 1 touchdown
New Orleans: 8 catches, 91 yards
Carolina: 5 catches, 76 yards, 1 touchdown (was injured this game)
Ridley was blazing hot in before his season was cut short with an abdominal injury. He finished the season with 63 catches, 866 yards and 7 touchdowns. Without injury, he would’ve been on pace for 77 catches, 1058 yards and 8 touchdowns.
With Ridley’s history wrapped up in our first Atlanta Falcons Player Profile, it’s time to dissect what could happen in 2020. But first, let’s dive into what Ridley’s excelled in and what he needs to improve in to succeed in 2020.
The Pros and Cons
Ridley right out of the gate proved he was ahead of the curve. Dan Quin went on record saying;
“Not only did Alabama use some of the pro style concepts we feature, some of the terminology had even been the same. So you can imagine how excited he was to see the playbook and see some of the language he’s been studying for three years. That was helpful. I’m encouraged, I really am. The speed, the athleticism, all of the things we saw on tape came to life. I knew he was a good competitor. I probably didn’t know how strong of a football IQ he has. You can tell he’s really equipped in that way. He’s able to handle concepts, formations, shifts, adjust on the run. I’m looking forward to see all the things he can do.”Dan Quin, Falcons Head Coach
Ridley proved all of the above super fast, transitioning into the Falcons offense seamlessly. After losing speedy slot WR Taylor Gabriel, Ridley became the new deep threat with his incredible acceleration and elite route-running. Ridley had a knack for being able to burn Defensive Backs off the press or slithering through defenses in the red-zone.
Ridley had some problems with dropped balls, recording 10 in 2018, but cut that down to 3 drops in 2019.
The main issue with Ridley is his inability to consistently put it all together. Ridley appeared to have solved that at the end of 2019, but his season ending injury jeopardizes that and still means Ridley has a lot to prove as a complete weapon.
Expectations in 2020
Ridley must evolve into an elite weapon in year 3. He’s been trending up over the last two seasons but to justify his first round investment he must prove he could be a WR1. As mentioned prior, he has to remain consistent with big plays and lots of Yards After Catch (YAC). Ridley is expected to be a big player in Fantasy Football, so scoring in real life should be his top goal. If Ridley has another inconsistent year, it won’t be the end for him, but he’ll only truly have 1-2 years left to prove his worth and that’s not a lot of time.
For Ridley’s “ceiling”, he should be breaking 1000 yards even if he only gets 70-80 catches. However, getting into the end zone will be the most important, as he should break his career high in 2020.
2020 Ceiling Prediction: 85 catches, 1317 yards (15.5 Y/R), 13 touchdowns, 1 drop
Seeing as Ridley didn’t decline in year 2, it’s hard to imagine that he’ll decline in year 3. If he doesn’t gain consistency, his stats will read similar to previous seasons.
Floor Predictions: 65 catches, 877 yards (13.5 Y/R), 8 touchdowns, 4 drops
If you enjoyed this Atlanta Falcons player profile, be sure to follow my Twitter to be informed when the next one comes out or when any new content of mine is released.