How Calvin Ridley’s record-breaking rookie year stacks up to other NFL greats’

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In his first season with the Falcons, Calvin Ridley proved to be one of the most dynamic and productive young wide receivers in the NFL.

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Ridley led all rookie receivers with 64 catches for 821 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2018, and he broke the Falcons’ rookie record for touchdown receptions. Six of his 10 touchdown receptions came in the first four games of the season, which set a new NFL record.

Yes, Ridley benefitted from playing opposite of Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu, but it’s clear he thrived early and often in his first NFL season. In fact, playing in such a productive offense meant he wasn’t going to be force-fed the ball.

After such a strong rookie season, the future looks bright for Ridley as a key part of an explosive offense. But where exactly does Ridley’s great start to his NFL career stack up against the rookie seasons of other star wide receivers throughout history?

Let’s take a look at not all, but 15 of the more notable names and rookie seasons (plus Ridley’s):

Table inside Article
Player Targets Receptions Yards Yards/Rec. Touchdowns Yards/Game
Anquan Boldin 165 101 1,377 13.63 8 86.1
Randy Moss 124 69 1,313 19.03 17 82.1
Odell Beckham Jr. 130 91 1,305 14.34 12 108.8
Mike Evans 122 68 1,051 15.46 12 70.1
Julio Jones 95 54 959 17.76 8 73.8
Jerry Rice N/A 49 927 18.92 3 57.9
DeSean Jackson 120 62 912 14.71 2 57.0
T.Y. Hilton 90 50 861 17.22 7 57.4
Marvin Harrison 118 64 836 13.06 8 52.3
Calvin Ridley 92 64 821 12.83 10 51.3
DeAndre Hopkins 91 52 802 15.42 2 50.1
Torry Holt 97 52 788 15.15 6 49.3
Calvin Johnson 93 48 756 15.75 4 50.4
Terrell Owens 58 35 520 14.86 4 32.5
Roddy White 69 29 446 15.38 3 27.9
Antonio Brown 19 16 167 10.44 0 18.6

Of the players on this list with more receiving yards as a rookie, only T.Y. Hilton had fewer targets, and only Julio Jones had fewer than 118 targets. Ridley made the most of the looks he got, catching 69.6 percent of the passes thrown his way, which was the 19th-best catch rate of any NFL receiver in his rookie season.

Although his yards per reception mark appears low, that could simply be the result of the role he had in an offense filled with talent at the skill positions. Ridley had plenty of explosive plays for the Falcons in his first year, catching 15 passes that resulted in gains of 15 yards or more. He also had two 75-yard touchdown catches.

Ridley also showed an incredible knack for getting to the end zone. His 10 touchdown catches not only set a Falcons rookie record, they were tied for the 10th most of any rookie receiver in NFL history. Among active players, only Odell Beckham and Mike Evans had more touchdown catches in their first season. That’s not bad company to keep.

It’s up to Ridley to ultimately determine where his career goes from here, but it’s clear he’s off to a pretty great start.

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