For the first time in the Dan Quinn era, the Falcons did not draft a defensive player with their first-round pick. Instead, they went with the best player available, wide receiver Calvin Ridley out of Alabama. Ridley has been the #1 receiver for the Crimson Tide for quite some time, possessing a unique combination of speed and superb route running capability. That kind of versatility will allow Ridley to play on the outside or in the slot over the course of his NFL career. With Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu on the roster, it is likely Ridley spends the majority occupying the slot in the Falcons offense in three-receiver sets.
Atlanta’s offense was not nearly as spectacular as it was in 2016, but they should return to elite form in 2018 with the addition of Brandon Fusco on the interior offensive line, and of course Calvin Ridley to the receiving core. Steve Sarkisian has all the weapons in the world to work with now and also has a year under his belt with this group. Expect an all-around offensive explosion from the Falcons in 2018.
As far as Ridley’s production, I believe it will be quite impactful. He might not flirt with the 1,000 yard mark like Julio Jones did in his rookie season with Atlanta. Ridley is not quite as talented as Jones, and this Atlanta offense has a lot more options than it did when Julio was rookie. However, operating out of the slot, with both Jones and Sanu taking up most of the attention, Ridley will be a nuisance , especially on critical third downs. He will be a resounding reason to why the Falcons receiving core will be regarded as the best in the NFL, by far.
2018 predicted statistics: 57 receptions, 773 yards and 6 touchdowns