(Photo by: Cal Sports Media)
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Less than a month away from the NFL Draft, Mel Kiper is throwing some curve balls in his most recent mock draft.
Especially with his selection for the Falcons.
While most draft pundits believe the Falcons will take a defensive tackle with the No. 26 pick, Kiper begs to differ.
Kiper has the Falcons selecting Alabama wide receiver Calvin Ridley with their first-round pick.
Pause for reaction.
Could another Alabama receiver be joining Julio Jones? Certainly makes for an interesting debate.
Ridley has been touted the best player at his position in this year's draft class. The 6-foot, 189-pound receiver has exceptional speed and route-running ability, something we know the Falcons covet in their receivers.
While it might not be the No. 1 positional need for the Falcons at this moment, receiver is a position Atlanta could address through the draft. Taylor Gabriel and Andre Roberts signed with other teams in free agency, leaving a few spots open in the wide receiver room.
Perhaps the reason Kiper has the Falcons selecting Ridley is because he has defensive tackles Taven Bryan and Da'Ron Payne off the board already. Both Bryan, Payne and Maurice Hurst have been the three prospects mocked to the Falcons the most to this point.
The Falcons are always looking to get faster across the board and Ridley would bring that to the team. The former Alabama star ran a 4.43 second 40-yard dash at the Combine in February. His ability to stretch the field vertically could give the Falcons another deep threat for Matt Ryan to work with.
Something also to note on Ridley is that offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian does has familiarity with the receiver. Sarkisian served as an offensive analyst and offensive coordinator for one game during Ridley's sophomore season where he recorded 72 receptions for 769 yards and seven touchdowns.