FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — It didn’t take long for Atlanta Falcons right tackle Ryan Schraeder to notice what type of teammate he had in first-round draft pick Calvin Ridley.
Schraeder heard about the type of playmaking ability the rookie brought with him from Alabama. He also learned quickly in practice how Ridley’s wide-receiver skills extended well beyond catching a tough pass or running a sharp route.
“He was highlighted during the meetings on a run play, making a great block,” Schraeder said. “That told me he’s going to fit in well here. And he’s a humble kid.”
“Calvin is very talented and just has a great work ethic,” Hooper said.
Free safety Ricardo Allen offered similar praise of Ridley from a defensive vantage point.
“One thing me and the veteran DBs already talked about and one of the things I’m already excited to see is him in Year 4 and Year 5,” Allen said. “I know that’s kind of jumping ahead early, but because he’s such a disciplined route runner and because he already kind of moves like a veteran, I just want to see when he becomes a veteran how much better a player he’s going to be.
“He’s the real deal. And he’s a good person. He’s not walking around like he thinks he’s hot s—. He’s walking around like a really good dude.”
Expectations are high for Ridley, the 26th overall pick who has yet to sign his rookie deal. He was under the microscope even more with the absence of top receiver Julio Jones, who is in the midst of a contract dispute and skipped mandatory minicamp. Although the Falcons would like Jones to be with the team rather than working out independently with Hall of Famer Terrell Owens, folks in the building are confident Jones is “enough of his own man” not to be swayed if Owens makes any negative suggestions, based on Owens’ reputation for having a strong personality.
The Falcons contend they did not draft Ridley as insurance in case of an extended holdout by Jones. They thought Ridley would be selected in the top 15 and even considered what it would take to trade up to get him at that point, if necessary. All along, they viewed Ridley as an explosive difference-maker capable of complementing Jones and helping the offense regain its punch. READ MORE>