Our positional questions roll along with receiver, where a rookie will be pushing a wily veteran hard for snaps, targets, and ultimately receptions.
This receiver depth chart looks pretty good, doesn’t it? You have one of the premier talents in the game surrounded by players who are, at worst, quality receiving options. That includes a first round pick the Falcons somewhat surprisingly spent on the position just this year. The chief questions with the depth chart here come further down, as we’ll briefly discuss.
It could get ugly, but Julio Jones should be on the field by the time the season starts, and he’s the team’s undisputed #1 option. He’ll get bushels of targets, he’ll lead the team in receiving yards and receptions, and there’s even a small chance he’ll lead the team in touchdowns. All of that is not in dispute unless he’s injured, so there’s really no question to ask here.
The more interesting question comes slightly down the depth chart, where Mohamed Sanu and Calvin Ridley will be duking it out for the right to be the team’s second option. Some combination of Justin Hardy, Russell Gage, and Marvin Hall or Reggie Davis will round out the back end of the depth chart and likely account for something like 30-40 receptions this year, but Sanu and Ridley are in line for a much larger share of the passing game.
The question is who will be the nominal #2, and who will actually wind up with the team’s second-best production. In one corner, you have Sanu, who is well-versed in this offense, has been steadily and solidly productive over the last two years, and has a strong rapport with Matt Ryan. In the other, you have exciting rookie Calvin Ridley, who comes to the NFL with a reputation for refined route-running and terrific speed and ability. It would not be stunning if either of them wound up earning that #2 distinction.
If you’ve seen any of my articles recently, you’re aware that I think it’s more likely that Sanu does it this year, however. His experience in the offense and reliability as a chain mover gives him an early edge, and while Sanu’s likely to kick into the slot plenty, I think he’ll out-snap the rookie and out-produce him, however narrowly. Ridley’s got the talent to be a better receiver than Sanu before long, but I’m not sure 2018 is the year he’ll break out, given how much ground he has to make up on the two veterans in front of him.
Sanu may well be on to another team in 2019, given his salary and Ridley’s likely emergence. If so, he’ll be able to point to another solid 2018 campaign as the #2 behind the great Julio Jones.
Do you agree?