With the 26th pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Atlanta Falcons select Calvin Ridley, Wide Receiver from the University of Alabama.
Hearing this statement from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell made me pretty excited as a Falcons fan. Being a Georgia fan and avid watcher of SEC games, I had seen plenty of Ridley throughout his career at Alabama.
He was an absolute beast of a rout runner, blowing past the best Defensive Backs the SEC had to offer. He finished his career at Alabama with 224 receptions for 2,781 yards and 19 TDs in three seasons, with one of those receptions being a game tying touchdown in the 2018 National Championship game against Georgia – a reception that still plays through my mind some nights forcing me to wake up in a cold sweat.
Fast forward to his rookie season with the Atlanta Falcons and he finished the season leading all NFL rookies in receiving yards, receiving touchdowns and receptions. Comparing Ridley’s rookie season stat line to Julio Jones‘s rookie season stat line, he beats Jones in two of the three main categories.
In Jones’s rookie season, he finished with 54 receptions for 959 yards and eight TDs. Ridley finished his rookie season with 64 receptions for 821 yards and 10 TDs.
Will Calvin Ridley be as good as Julio Jones someday? This is a question that I can’t answer yet based off of one season, but I can say without hesitation and with all the confidence in the world that Calvin Ridley will be a star in this league.
His eight receptions for 146 yards and three TDs in the week three game vs the New Orleans Saints showed fans what he was capable of doing to opposing defenses. After his third touchdown reception, I found myself wondering if he might break the record for most receiving touchdowns in a game.
Keep in mind Falcons fans that Ridley still has room to grow as a receiver. He did have a stretch of games where he only caught a handful of passes for not a whole lot of yards, but he is only 24 years old and he is still learning.
I look at Ridley’s rookie season with the Falcons as the opening chapter to a long and exciting book. So get ready, because now that the opening chapter is complete, the story can now officially begin.