The Atlanta Falcons have one of the “top three” route runners in the NFL on their books. That’s according to a two-time All-Pro wide receiver.
This five-time Pro-Bowler named one Falcons pass-catcher alongside the likes of Super Bowl LVI MVP Cooper Kupp and Justin Jefferson. It’s high praise for a Falcons wideout often forgotten in discussions about the game’s elite players at his position.
Raiders Star Has High Praise for Forgotten Falcon
Davante Adams told Heavy’s Senior NFL Reporter Matt Lombardo which receivers he thinks set the standard for running routes. Speaking on an edition of The Matt Lombardo Show, the Las Vegas Raiders star put an unlikely name among the top three: “Another guy people forget about a lot, Calvin Ridley is top three.”
That’s quite the compliment for Ridley, especially since Adams began his answer by naming a marquee trio feared by defensive backs around the league. The group is headlined by Los Angeles Rams receiving kingpin Kupp, last season’s triple-crown champion: “I mean obviously you got Cooper Kupp. He’s a great route runner. Justin Jefferson, a lot of these guys. Stefon Diggs. I mean Diggs is one of the first people I think of as far as just clean routes.”
More than a few Falcons fans might raise eyebrows at Adams’ lofty verdict on Ridley, but there aren’t many better qualified than the 29-year-old to assess fellow receivers. Adams has built his reputation on winning early out of his breaks and tying defensive backs in knots with a myriad of moves that defy the laws of physics.
Adams still regularly leaves observers, including Austin Gayle of Pro Football Focus, in awe:
Being put into the elite bracket by somebody with Adams’ skills is a timely endorsement for Ridley. The latter’s career has hit a significant bump in the road after he incurred an indefinite suspension for betting violations.
His suspension, combined with a truncated 2021 campaign, during which he took time away for his mental wellbeing, has made it easy to forget what Ridley brought to the Falcons. If he returns to the team, Ridley will give the Falcons a three-headed monster for the passing game in 2023.
Ridley Return Would Complete Frightening Trio
The time is ripe for the Falcons to add another bluechip receiver to the mix. Top draft pick Drake London is already a genuine big-play threat, having hauled in 18 catches for 231 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
London’s threat has reduced the workload for record-breaking tight end Kyle Pitts, but the latter’s still a physical mismatch for defenses. Having Ridley support this double act would make the Falcons’ passing game feared, even without an elite quarterback.
Ridley is out of football for now, but he’s still the player who tallied 90 receptions, 1,374 yards and nine touchdowns in 2020. Those scores were part of Ridley’s 28-touchdown haul during three seasons with the Falcons.
Winning in the red zone is the signature part of Ridley’s game, and Adams isn’t the only All-Pro who has been wowed by the former Alabama standout. Ridley has been earning praise from his fellow pros for a while, with Baltimore Ravens franchise QB Lamar Jackson joining the fanfare in 2020:
Ridley is the safe pair of hands and sure thing over the middle the Falcons need to complement Pitts’ threat on the outside and London’s vertical flair. Combining this trio with a steady dose of power running would make Atlanta’s offense prolific.
This exciting prospect has to be worth keeping Ridley around for at least another year, assuming he’s reinstated. Ridley’s set to make $11,116,000 in ’23, according to Spotrac.com, but that’ll feel like a small price to pay if he lives up to Adams’ praise while London and Pitts continue their rise.