The Falcons signed first-round draft pick Calvin Ridley to a four-year contract with a fifth-year option Wednesday, according to his agents. The team has not announced the signing.
The signing of Ridley completes the signing of the Falcons’ rookie class.
Ridley was selected 26th overall in the NFL draft. His deal previously was projected to be worth $10.9 million.
He caught 224 passes for 2,781 yards and 19 touchdowns over three seasons at Alabama.
Maryland’s D.J. Moore was the first wide receiver selected in the draft. He went 24th to Carolina. Two picks later, the Falcons selected Ridley.
The Falcons were pleased with Ridley’s offseason.
“Comfort wise, he probably came in a little bit ahead of the curve,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said recently. “Not only did Alabama use some of the same pro-style concepts that we feature, some of the terminology had even been the same.”
Ridley was delighted to flip through the playbook.
“You could imagine how excited he was to see the playbook and see some of the same language that he’d been studying for three years,” Quinn said. “There was an instant sense of ‘OK, they call it the same thing here.’ So that was helpful.”
The Falcons fell in love with Ridley at Alabama’s Pro Day. His route-running was exquisite.
That carried over to the Falcons’ offseason program. Ridley’s biggest challenge has been to get to the correct depth on his routes and end up where the quarterback is expecting him.
“He was so mindful to get it exactly at the right depths and then as the practices went on, you saw more of the speed come on because he had a real assurance of the right spot, the right space and where to break guys off,” Quinn said. “So, I’m encouraged. The speed and the athleticism, all of the things you saw on tape, that all came to life.”
Over the past five seasons, there have been four rookies to eclipse 1,000 yards receiving.
In 2016, New Orleans’ Michael Thomas caught 92 passes for 1,137 yards and nine touchdowns.
In 2015, Oakland’s Amari Cooper, who also played at Alabama, caught 72 passes for 1,070 yards and six touchdowns.
In 2014, New York Giants’ Odell Beckham Jr. caught 91 passes for 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns.
In 2013, San Diego’s Keenan Allen caught 71 passes for 1,046 yards and eight touchdowns.
Last season was the exception, as Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp led the league in catches for rookies with 62 and Pittsburgh’s JuJu Smith-Schuster led the rookies in yards receiving with 917.
The Falcons believe the sky is the limit for Ridley.
“I knew he was a good competitor,” Quinn said. “I probably didn’t know how strong a football IQ he had. As you can tell, he’s really equipped in that way. He’s able to handle concepts, information, shifts, adjust on the run, learn things quickly. I’m looking forward to seeing all of things he can do.”
NFL draft analyst Mike Mayock insisted that Ridley was only a slot receiver and doesn’t have the frame to play outside.
“We’ve featured him more outside than inside, then we played him at slot and he responded well,” Quinn said.
It’s going to fun to watch Moore and Ridley to see who’s the most productive over their rookie seasons.
First round (26th overall) Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
HEIGHT: 6-foot-¼ of inch WEIGHT: 189 pounds ARM LENGTH: 31-5/8 inches HAND SIZE: 9-1/8 inches 40-YARD DASH: 4.43 seconds BENCH PRESS: 15 reps of 225 pounds VERTICAL JUMP: 31 inches BROAD JUMP: 9 feet, 2 inches THREE-CONE DRILL: 6.68 seconds OVERVIEW: He finished second in Alabama history in receptions with 224 and receiving touchdowns with 19 while he ranked third in receiving yards with 2,781. He was named first-team All-SEC by the coaches last season. He played at three different high schools. He picked Alabama over Ohio State, Florida State and Miami. He production decreased over his three years at Alabama. He caught 89 passes as a freshmen, followed by 72 and then 63 last season. He’s an old rookie as he’ll turn 24 during the season.