The consensus is in: Calvin Ridley is in for a breakout 2020

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For a receiver with 60+ receptions, 800+ yards, and 7+ touchdowns in his first two seasons, there are still several haters that believe the Falcons 2018 first-round selection, Calvin Ridley, is a bust. That just shows how little some people pay attention to Atlanta.

Ridley would have eclipsed 1,000 yards last season and probably had 10+ touchdowns in back-to-back seasons to start his career if it were not for injuries. He only played in 13 games (10 starts) last year and was limited in several others. Still, he finished with 866 yards receiving. But for Ridley, 1,000 yards isn’t the goal. That’s just a stepping stone he feels he should be able to achieve with ease in 2020.

Ridley’s goal is to be in the same conversation as his fellow teammate Julio Jones — the one of elite wide receivers

 

That’s not a bad role model to emulate, and it’s likely a player Ridley’s had his eyes on for a while. Both receivers went from winning National Championships at the University of Alabama to being first-round picks in the NFL by the Atlanta Falcons.

Ridley’s not the only one predicting he’ll have a breakout campaign in 2020 either. Here’s a quote from his quarterback, Matt Ryan, from a little over a month ago, via Clutch Points.

“That’s the development you can get with a guy now going into Year 3,” Ryan said via Mark Inabinett of AL.com. “But you really can only get there if you have this extended amount of time and this one-on-one venue to work at. He’s a guy I think could explode going into a year like this. He’s in phenomenal shape, he’s been running great and I think his grasp of the offense and his mastery of our system is so much further along than it was last year.”

Ryan doubled down on those comments last week when he said he thinks Ridley is going to make opponents “pay” if they leave him in one-on-one coverage.

That’s something Ridley will probably see plenty of. Julio Jones requires at least two sets of eyes on every play, if not three. Russell Gage and Laquon Treadwell are also viable threats as the team’s third and fourth wide receivers. Hayden Hurst — who the Falcons added via trade this offseason — is an extremely athletic tight end, and opponents can’t sleep on the explosiveness of Todd Gurley in the run game. There isn’t a better opportunity for a talented receiver entering his third season, like Ridley, to explode. 

Ridley has fans on the other side of the ball as well. Ricardo Allen had this to say to the media today: 

 

But Ridley’s high expectations for 2020 aren’t just for himself, his eyes are on a much bigger prize. 

The Falcons might not have had much success in Ridley’s two years with the team, but based on his college career, the proof is in the pudding. He won two national championships while at Alabama and would have had a three-peat if not for a miraculous performance by Deshaun Watson and the Clemson Tigers in 2016. 

On social media, Ridley has had no problem calling out his doubters. That might seem problematic if he wasn’t backing it up with work in the offseason, but that isn’t the case. Everyone around the organization recognizes Ridley’s desire to be the best. Now, he’s in an ideal situation to have a breakout 2020.  

Photo: David John Griffin/Icon Sportswire

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