In today’s NFL, speed and explosiveness kill. Calvin Ridley’s got most of it, if not all.
On top of that, a versatile, slot/flanker hybrid with punishing first step quickness, great playmaking ability, and quick feet is someone who should dominate any coverage look, especially press and zone coverages. Ridley was generally unstoppable when facing any defensive zone schemes at Alabama, and while the going will be tougher at the NFL level, his talent is undeniable.
How Ridley fares against schemes
Depending on the cornerback who is trying to jam his route at the line of scrimmage, I think Ridley will find success in that aspect in the NFL. In a predominantly cover 3 zone NFL defense, boundary and field corners on their respective third of the field are going to ask a lot of their versatile free safety and their linebackers rotating into the curl/flat zone against Calvin because of his quick feet and ability to stretch the defense.
On a hitch and go route, for example, you’re going to need a Brian Urlacher type guy to cut his route off in time, and you better hope he doesn’t leave you on the ground with a lethal double move. Off the line, it’s fair to say that safety help will be imminent against the Alabama prodigy. The reason Ridley slipped to pick 26 in the draft was because of transition concerns from an Alabama pro-style, run-heavy offense, and perhaps a tiny bit due to his advanced age for a rookie prospect. The Falcons quickly picked up on that and filled a need of explosiveness that they had just lost in Taylor Gabriel, who signed with Chicago on a four year deal. Dan Quinn believes that if a player has athleticism and great knowledge of the game, a transition is possible. Statistically, Matt Ryan excels when he has several assets on his offense, and with Gabriel’s depart, a more lethal weapon in Calvin Ridley steps in.
This should ultimately better the gameplay of Matt Ryan. It will also benefit Ridley, who played with a run-first quarterback at Alabama in Jalen Hurts and still managed quality production. In 2017, Ridley put up a respectable 967 yards, 15.3 yards per catch and 5 touchdowns. For somebody in a run-heavy offense, I’d say this is pretty impressive. In 2015, a year after star wide receiver Amari Cooper headed to the NFL, Ridley, a freshman, put up beautiful numbers. An unpolished player in Ridley put up 1045 yards and 7 touchdowns.
The Falcons are an ideal fit for Ridley
Atlanta was a PERFECT situation for Ridley. PERFECT.
Julio Jones should eat up most of the attention on the secondary, while defenders will also have to deal with Mohamed Sanu, one of the NFL’s most consistent number 2s. Typically, meanwhile, teams will be defending Calvin Ridley with the third best cornerback on their roster. He’s going to be simply too shifty to stop at the line of scrimmage, and if you don’t stop him, you’re in for a rough night, because the Falcons have a ton of weapons already.
With a future Hall of Fame quarterback in Matt Ryan, an attention eater and mentor in Julio Jones, a veteran guy with similar traits to Ridley in Mohamed Sanu and an offensive coordinator who spent time coaching in Alabama, Ridley should experience immediate success.
I’m excited about his 2018 fortunes. Are you?