Editor's note: This is the ninth story in a 10-part series counting down the top 10 Atlanta Falcons players our writers believe are most likely to have a breakout season in 2020. The definition of breakout, for the purpose of this list, is a player who shows sudden significant improvement.
Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff and coach Dan Quinn were surprised when a player of Calvin Ridley's caliber fell all the way to the bottom of the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft. It was a no-brainer when Dimitroff and the Falcons were on the clock.
Since Ridley's arrival, not only did he exceed expectations for a rookie, the Falcons now one of the best wide receiver duos in the league in Julio Jones and Ridley.
Ridley's sophomore season ended three games early after suffering an abdominal injury and had he been able to finish the year, it's more than likely he would have recorded his first 1,000-yard season.
Healthy and hungrier than ever, Ridley is primed for his best season yet.
TOP 10 BREAKOUT SEASON COUNTDOWN
Body of work
Ridley has yet to start every game in a full season and has still caught 127 passes for 1,687 yards and 17 touchdowns.
With Jones, Mohamed Sanu and Austin Hooper all starters in the Falcons' offense, it was hard to predict how involved Ridley would be in Atlanta's offense during the 2018 season.
Ridley made the most of every opportunity thrown his way that season – he caught 64 passes for 821 yards – and set a franchise record with most touchdown receptions by a first-year player with 10.
After a year of extra reps before and after practice, Ridley and Ryan's improved connection was on display for all to see for 13 games.
The former-first round pick would have matched and likely exceeded his number of catches and touchdowns from his first season had the injury not occurred. Ridley caught 63 passes for 866 yards and seven touchdowns in the 2019 season.
Poised for a breakout
Fantasy football junkies are high on Ridley heading into his third season for a reason.
Until Sanu was traded in late-October, Ridley always trailed Jones and Sanu on the Falcons' depth chart. Now, he enters the upcoming season as Atlanta's No. 2 receiver and there's no question about it.
Ridley will continue to benefit from the attention Jones draws each game. He's also going into his second season with offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter and Atlanta's play-caller believes we'll see an even better version of Ridley in 2020.
"I think he's always been able to beat his man just by pure speed and athleticism, and I think as he gets a little more consistent in his route running and understanding what is landmarks are, his depths of his routes are, I think you're going to see a jump in his game," Koetter said this offseason.
Based off the videos Ridley has posted on social media recently, he appears to be in the best shape of his life.
And that's just another of the many reasons to believe he's due for a breakout season.
We are counting down the top 10 Falcons players our writers believe are most likely to have a breakout season in 2020. The definition of breakout, for the purpose of this list, is a player who shows sudden significant improvement.