After surprising the NFL by taking Calvin Ridley in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft, the Atlanta Falcons arguably have the best wide receiver group in the league. As if having future Hall of Fame receiver Julio Jones and the talented Mohamed Sanu on hand wasn’t already enough to deal with, the Falcons have Ridley entering his sophomore year, poised to keep improving.
Let’s try and predict what Calvin Ridley’s impact will be in 2019.
Receptions and Yards
In 2018, Calvin Ridley had an impressive 64 receptions for 821 yards. When you consider all of the talent MVP quarterback Matt Ryan has to choose from, these numbers are pretty solid for a rookie. One thing we need to get out of the way is no matter how great Calvin is in year two, the offense will keep flowing through Julio.
To be honest, that’s okay. Calvin will be able to continue to grow as a player, and ultimately will be the Falcons leading receiver when Julio retires.
With all that being said, I don’t expect any sort of decrease in target share for Calvin Ridley. His real competition is Mohamed Sanu who in 2018, had practically the same production as Ridley, aside from touchdowns. Look for yourself.
Mohamed Sanu: 94 targets, 66 receptions, 838 yards
Calvin Ridley: 92 targets, 64 receptions, 821 yards
With many expecting Sanu to move on following this season, don’t be surprised if Ridley dips into Sanu’s target share. I believe Ridley will see about 110-120 targets in 2019, meaning he catches about 85 (or more) passes. Assuming the target increase is correct, there’s no reason to assume Ridley can’t surpass the 1,000-yard mark.
As impressive as Calvin Ridley’s 10 receiving touchdowns were in his rookie campaign, it’ll be difficult to duplicate that production in 2019. Six of those touchdowns last year came in a three-game stretch in the first four games of the season, and with the return of Devonta Freeman and the emergence of Russell Gage, there are even more mouths to feed.
Even if Ridley’s touchdown number declines a little, it won’t diminish what he does on the field.
The overall question of what Calvin Ridley’s numbers will look like has little to do with his talent. Everything will depend on how the ball is spread around, if Julio is as dominant as he’s been in past years and with Devonta Freeman returning, how much the Falcons will rely on the passing game.
The team ranked 27th in rushing last season, which I know we all hope improves with a healthy Devonta on the field. Ridley should still get his though, while continuing to open eyes around the league. Given what what’s been mentioned above, here’s how I see things playing out:
87 receptions, 1,082 yards (12.4 ypr) and 8 touchdowns
What kind of numbers do you think Calvin Ridley will put up in 2019?