Even after Julio Jones trade, PFF rankings acknowledge Falcons still have an elite wide receiver

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Pro Football Focus has come out with their annual positional rankings, which list the 32-best players at a particular position — wide receivers in this case. With Julio Jones, the Falcons had an elite, down-the-field threat that could take the top off any defense. PFF’s Anthony Treash ranked the newest member of the Titans as the fifth-best player at his position, slightly low-balling Jones. However, even without the All-Pro, PFF still recognizes another Atlanta wideout as an elite player at his position — Calvin Ridley — which is great considering PFF designates wide receiver as the second-most valuable position on the field, behind quarterback.

Treash ranked Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen ahead of Ridley, who couldn’t quite crack the top-10 coming in as the 11th-best receiver according to Treash:

After flashing high-end play and incredible route-running chops in Years 1 and 2 with Atlanta in 2018 and 2019, Ridley finally pieced it all together and showcased his talent on a consistent basis in 2020. His production skyrocketed across the board: From 2019 to 2020, he improved his PFF grade by 10 points to 84.9 and took his yards per route run total from 1.69 to 2.44 (seventh-best).

Ridley hauled in the third-most receptions against single coverage in which he had at least a couple of steps of separation (19) and led the league in total 15-plus-yard receptions (40).

I truly believe it’s a toss-up between Jefferson and Ridley, but to have Thielen ahead of both is nonsense. Without Julio Jones this year, expect Ridley to cement his place among the elite pass catchers in this league, but he already knows how good he is. Ridley has all the physical gifts in the world and the work ethic to maximize that potential, but the real key to his success is confidence. “The one thing I definitely took from Julio is his confidence he has every week,” Ridley said in a press conference. “Being a No. 1 receiver going out to work every day, you have to believe in yourself. By my second year, I realized what he’s all about. Once I realized that, I really tried to follow that. Not like I think I’m better than everybody, but I believe in myself. I really think that made me a better player, believing in myself and what I can do.”




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