Falcons: WR Ridley excited to join Julio Jones

--- NFLDraftScout.com ---

From Flowery Branch, Ga., D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal Constitution talked to and about Alabama wide receiver Calvin Ridley, the No. 26 pick.

"We mentioned that we had about five different positions," Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said. "It was a really interesting trek to the opportunity to be able to take Calvin Ridley with our 26th pick. We are really excited to add him as another firepower weapon. He's going to mix in very well with our offense."

Ridley caught 224 passes for 2,781 yards and 19 touchdowns over three seasons. He was the top wide receiver in the draft, according to NFLDraftScout.com.

Ridley was elated to be drafted by the Falcons and join his mentor, All-Pro wide receiver Julio Jones, who also played at Alabama.

"It was amazing," Ridley said about receiving the Falcons' call. "I'm very excited that the Falcons gave me an opportunity to come in."

Ridley thought he should have been taken higher in the draft.

"I'm going to prove a lot of people wrong," Ridley said. "I'm very excited to be coming there with Julio. I know that I'm going to learn a lot from him and become a better player and a wide receiver. I'm just very, very happy to be in their organization."

Ridley had 20 dropped passes over three seasons and some teams didn't believe he could play outside in the NFL.

"I felt I could have been picked way before (the 26th pick)," Ridley said. "I'm going to work hard and prove everybody wrong. Those people who doubted me, I'm going to make everybody a believer."

Ridley spent time in Atlanta working out with Jones before the draft.

"I worked out with him down there for a couple of weeks until I had to start flying out," Ridley said. "I talked to him and did all type of drills with him before I left."

Ridley, who will be reunited with Falcons offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, believes he can help immediately.

"I think I'm a great route runner," Ridley said. "I get open really well."

He enjoyed his time with Sarkisian at Alabama during the 2016 season.

"He was real cool," Ridley said. "He was trying to get me the ball before he left. I knew that."

The Falcons believe he can play in the slot and flex outside when Mohamed Sanu is in the slot.

"We see him as a very versatile receiver," Dimitroff said. "He can play inside and outside. Obviously, he's fast and highly agile. He has the ability to stop and start well ... again, he's a play-making type of guy."

He caught at least one pass in each of his 44 games at Alabama.

"You want to see guys beat man-to-man and he has that type of quickness," head coach Dan Quinn said. "Only a few guys have the speed to play outside, but the change of direction to play inside. He's really a quick guy. You can tell that he's been really well-coached and is ready to contribute right away."

In each of the past three drafts the Falcons selected defensive players with their top two picks. But after the offense regressed under Sarkisian last season, Quinn was fine with picking an offensive player.

"We think this is a deep draft," Quinn said. "We thought we had some opportunities, whether if it was at receiver (or elsewhere). There were a number of spots that we talked about. This is how it ended up playing out for us."

Starting Friday, the Falcons hold picks 58 (second round), 90th (third round), 126th (fourth round), 200 (sixth round) and 244 (seventh round). Atlanta was awarded the final pick in the draft (No. 256) -- referred to as Mr. Irrelevant -- as a compensatory pick for losing five players in free agency in 2017.


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