This is the key year for Atlanta Falcons second year receiver, Calvin Ridley.
Last summer, the Atlanta Falcons picked Calvin Ridley with their sole first round pick and didn’t trade up to get anyone else. At the time, it left some fans wondering if this was a result of stalled Julio Jones negotiations? Don’t the Falcons have enough weapons? Why didn’t they address the defense?
In his rookie season, Ridley balled, relatively speaking, producing 64 catches for 821 yards and 10 touchdowns. Like you can expect from most first year players, there were two seasons for him. He came out the gate blazing, seven of his touchdowns came in the first eight weeks of the season.
In fact, after week three, he never recorded more than a hundred yards in a game. And he struggled with dropped passes at times. It almost seemed like he lost concentration and then his confidence followed.
Keep in mind, Ridley posted these numbers as the number three option. Behind Julio and Mohamed Sanu.
And we aren’t in Alabama anymore. Defenses adjust. While you may be able to dominate on sheer talent alone in college football, that usually doesn’t follow you to the big leagues. It’s why we see Heisman Trophy winners, sometimes reduced to rubble. It’s a different ballgame.
In his second year, Ridley has to prove he can be a consistent second option. In fact, the Falcons would hope that he may even be able to carry the torch at number one. As Jones ages, the team can take a page from the Cardinals and prolong his career by moving him to the slot much like Larry Fitzgerald.
Ridley could also be the reason the Falcons decide to move on from Mohamed Sanu. Sanu’s cap hit is a smooth $7.9 million next with year, with a dead hit of only $1.4 million. Ridley will still be on his rookie contract, and the Falcons have quite a few young players they would like to resign. Deion Jones, Keanu Neal, Grady Jarrett.
No disrespect to Sanu, but he could easily become a cap casualty. And the Falcons and their fans would love nothing more than to know they’ve got a capable player ready in Calvin Ridley.
He hit a rookie wall, which is expected, but neither Ridley nor the Falcons can afford a sophomore slump.