4. Can Calvin Ridley produce as a rookie?
The Falcons didn’t necessarily go into the 2018 draft thinking they’d spend their first pick on a wide receiver, but the team felt Ridley was too valuable to pass up. Now he needs to produce right away to justify the front office’s confidence in his ability.
Fortunately for Ridley, the Falcons already have two excellent starting wideouts. Julio Jones is obviously one of, if not the best, receiver in the game today. The presence of Mohamed Sanu also gives Steve Sarkisian’s offense a versatile weapon from the slot. Ridley doesn’t need to be a star from day one.
He does, however, need to be an adequate starting wide receiver as a rookie. Ideally, he can develop into an above average No. 2 wideout by the time the postseason rolls around. If Ridley plays well this offense could develop into one of the top five unites in the league.
The good news for Ridley is that he’s going to see a lot of single coverage. Opposing defenses aren’t going to let Jones work one on one very often. The coverage will almost always be shaded to his side of the field. Ridley will be challenged working to get away from NFL corners, but he should avoid seeing a ton of safeties over the top.
If Ridley keeps it simple he should enjoy a productive rookie season. He’s got the talent to develop into a solid pro, but sometimes it takes receivers a year or two to really catch on. The Falcons can’t afford to wait on their first round pick.