Yet, another positive prediction for Atlanta Falcons rising star receiver, Calvin Ridley. This time NFL.com’s Dan Hanzus predicted MVP candidates for all NFC teams and chose Ridley for the Falcons’ 2020 MVP.
Last week, Ridley was projected to outscore DeAndre Hopkins this season. This doesn’t come by surprise considering the Falcons’ current offense situation.
Hanzus’ Reasoning for Picking Ridley
Hanzus’ shares his reasoning on why Ridley will make his big leap.
This feels like the year Ridley “makes the leap” from quality starter to breakout star. The 2018 first-round pick has been a consistent source of production in his first two seasons, totaling 17 touchdowns and close to 1,700 yards while lining up across from Julio Jones. At 31, Jones will continue to command double-teams — and Atlanta’s lack of a proven third wideout (hi, Russell Gage) or the presence of tight end Austin Hooper (off to Cleveland in free agency) means a healthy Ridley should easily surpass 100 targets for the first time. Jones hasn’t had a running mate with this talent level since Roddy White, a member of the Falcons’ Ring of Honor.
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Matt Ryan Sees Ridley Exploding This Year
Ridley is back for year three after missing the last three games due to an abdominal injury. The third-year wideout was set to hit his first 1000 yards season.
Matt Ryan also thinks big things are going to come out of 2018 first-rounder this year. The two have been getting some one-on-one workouts during the quarantine.
“He’s a guy I think could explode going into a year like this, Ryan told Sports Illustrated. He’s in phenomenal shape, he’s been running great and I think his grasp of the offense and his mastery of our system is so much further along than it was last year.”
In just two seasons in Atlanta, Ridley has recorded 127 passes for 1,687 yards and 17 touchdowns. If all goes well, Ridley should hit his first 1,000-yard season.
Ridley Started on a Bad Note
Ridley actually began his NFL career on a bad note and didn’t catch a single pass in his first start in the league. However, he was clearly able to bounce back by the end of the 2018 season and finished with 64 catches for 821 yards and 10 touchdowns.
That year, he led the NFL’s first-year wide-outs in receptions, receiving yards and touchdown catches. The natural athlete also earned a spot on the league’s All-Rookie team. His touchdown total also surpassed the Falcons’ rookie record of nine by 1990 tight end, Junior Miller.
“Calvin loves football. You can tell it’s not just a paycheck to him. He loves it. He wants to play well and he wants to make big plays. He wants to win.”