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.”
Free safety Ricardo Allen offered similar praise of Ridley from a defensive vantage point.cheap nike nfl jerseys free shipping
“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.
After a strong first impression during rookie minicamp and organized team activities, Ridley continued to impress during mandatory minicamp. He was featured more outside than inside, although he spent the final week of practice working some in the slot while also making a cameo on special teams as a return man.
“Comfort-wise, nfl nike jerseys for cheap I think he came in a little bit ahead of the curve,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said of Ridley. “Not only did Alabama use some of the same pro-style concepts that we feature, but some of the terminology had even been the same. So you can imagine how excited he was to see the playbook and see some of the same language he’d been studying for three years. There was like some instant sense of like, ‘OK, they call it the same thing here.’ So that was helpful.