The fourth breakout candidate we’ll talk about is the Falcons WR2. He’s already had two fantastic seasons, recording nearly 1,700 receiving yards and 17 TDs, but this could be the year he is mentioned in the same breath as Julio Jones rather than as his apprentice.
It’s insane that some people outside of Atlanta (clearly they don’t watch the Falcons very much) view Calvin Ridley as a bust after just two seasons. As a rookie, he caught for double-digit touchdowns and 821 yards. In his draft class, he had the most receptions, yards, and touchdowns. To compare that to rookie wide receivers in 2019, he had more receptions and touchdowns than any of them, and only had fewer yards than two — A.J. Brown and D.K. Metcalf.
Ridley would have built on those numbers in his second season. He caught 64 passes, for 866 yards, and seven touchdowns. However, injuries played a factor, as he missed three games and was hampered in several others. A healthy Ridley would have smashed the 1,000-yard threshold and possibly recorded double-digit touchdowns for the second year in a row. Definitely not a bust, but year three could determine just how high his ceiling is. Will Ridley become a wide receiver ready to take over for Julio Jones? Or is he more of a career WR2?
With Mohammed Sanu now out of the picture, it will allow Ridley to reach his full potential statistically. From what he’s shown thus far, he has an impeccable ability to create separation and is fantastic after the catch. As he continues to improve his strength and adjust to the highest level of competition, all the ingredients are there for him to become an elite wide receiver. Eventually, the Falcons want the torch to be passed from Julio Jones to Calvin Ridley — much like it was from Roddy White to Julio Jones. However, those visions will change if Ridley can’t take the next step in his third season.