Because of the Falcons’ lack of success, not many people recognize one of the league’s up-and-coming stars at the receiver position. It didn’t take long for Calvin Ridley to start terrorizing cornerbacks after being taken in the first round of the 2018 draft by Atlanta. He had over 800 yards and 10 touchdowns as a rookie and produced an almost identical stat line in his sophomore season; however, in three fewer games while dealing with multiple nagging injuries.
Entering his third year, Ridley said he felt like he was already a 1,000-yard-caliber receiver and that people were sleeping on him. Some even had the audacity to start using the “bust” term regarding the former 26th overall pick, which was ridiculous at the time but looks even more absurd today. Ridley proved all of his doubters wrong in 2020, earning second-team All-Pro honors and entering the conversation of elite wide receivers. He finished tied for fifth in the league in receiving yards with Davante Adams and scored nine times in just 15 games. We already know the Falcons have one top-ten receiver in Julio Jones, but is it possible Ridley now gives them a second, and is this receiving duo the best in the league?
To answer the first part of the question, I have to break down my top-ten receivers in the game.
- Julio Jones
- De’Andre Hopkins
- Davante Adams
- Tyreek Hill
- Michael Thomas
- Stefon Diggs
- DK Metcalf
- Mike Evans
- Allen Robinson
- Calvin Ridley
Honorable Mention: Amari Cooper, Keenan Allen, Odell Beckham Jr., Justin Jefferson, Terry McLaurin
Some might say I am biased, and to those of you, I say I probably am. Still, I think Julio is the best receiver in the league. De’Andre Hopkins is a close second, and Davante Adams might have something to say about it after this season, but I do dock him a little bit since he is playing with one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. Hill is a defensive coordinator’s nightmare, and unfortunately, I couldn’t keep slant-boy out of my top-five. He’s still really good at what he does, even if he plays for the Saints.
Right now, I think those are firmly the top-five receivers in the game. You can jumble them up how you like, but it should be those five in some order. 6-10 is where things are much more controversial.
Diggs showed in Buffalo that he is the wide receiver the Vikings should have kept. Of course, Minnesota can’t be too disappointed now that they have Justin Jefferson, who they drafted in the first round last year. This might be a little high for Metcalf after just one season of elite production, but I’m looking forward with this list, not backward, and Metcalf has top-five receiver potential written all over him. Mike Evans had a down year in 2020 (for his lofty standards), but he’s caught for over 1,000 yards in each of his first seven seasons — the first receiver ever to do so. He undoubtedly deserves a spot in the top-ten.
Rounding out my list is Allen Robinson and Calvin Ridley — two players that might not be featured on many others. Robinson is probably the most underrated receiver in the game. Give him a top-tier quarterback, and he’s probably catching for over 1,400 yards annually. Ridley talked the talk last offseason, and he walked the walk during the season as well, earning second-team All-Pro honors after catching 90 balls for 1,374 yards and nine touchdowns in 15 games. He’s not only a WR1; he’s one of the ten best receivers in the game moving forward.
I don’t really think it’s up for debate. Even if you don’t consider Calvin Ridley a top-ten receiver, or perhaps you think there is a receiver or two better than Julio — the Falcons have the best wide receiver tandem in football. The even scarier thought? It could be even better after April’s draft. If Terry Fontenot stays true to his word and drafts the best player available with the fourth overall pick, Kyle Pitts or Ja’Marr Chase could be wearing red and black next season.
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