Because most rookies don’t get enough credit, we’ll be highlighting some top performances by the NFL’s next generation.
Calvin Ridley, WR, Atlanta Falcons
OK- so maybe Ridley should have gotten this nod from me last week, when he hauled in seven catches for 146 yards and three TD’s. But I had to make something of Josh Allen embarrassing that Vikings defense. So here we are, one week later, and Ridley is at the top of the pile again. While he didn’t get targeted as much this week in the Falcons loss to the Bengals, it’s clear that he’s become Matt Ryan’s favorite new target in the red zone. While teammate and perennial All-Pro Julio Jones is leading all receivers in yardage and drawing opposing defenses double coverage, it’s Calvin Ridley that’s scoring touchdown after touchdown for Atlanta. After his strong showing against Cincinnati that included a thirty-yard score, the rookie WR leads the NFL in receiving touchdowns with six. Ridley’s career at Alabama was exceptional, but one thing that might have been missed by scouts is his maturity and ability to run pro-level routes. He’s not just a streaking fast sideline guy. He’s a subtle outside juke and interior cut guy that can come open in the blink of an eye. Especially while his better-known teammate is being covered by the opposing defenses best corner with a safety over the top. All that might change soon, as Ridley’s also averaging more yards per catch than the more heavily used Jones. Any way you cut it, Atlanta has got to be the most dangerous team sitting at 1-3 after the first quarter of the season.
Check out previous rookie reports here.
Image Source: AJC