Bleacher Report conducted a re-draft of the 2018 NFL Draft on Monday. Writer Gary Davenport has the Atlanta Falcons passing on Calvin Ridley who they selected No. 26 overall in favor of an attempt to generate some semblance of a pass rush.
It seems like a long time ago that the Falcons were picking in the rarified air of the late-20’s in the draft after back to back top-10 picks. The Falcons were coming off a 10-6 season in 2017 after the offense had suffered an historic drop-off in the hands of first time NFL offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian.
The defense was ranked eighth in points allowed, and Ridley was an immediate impact player with the Falcons as the offensive moved back into the top-10.
However, the neglecting of the lines of scrimmage and defense in general began to show its ugly head. The Falcons went from top-10 in points allowed and yardage to 25th and 28th respectively.
With the benefit of hindsight, Davenport has the Falcons passing on Ridley and selecting edge rusher at Josh Sweat at No. 26 overall.
READ MORE: Atlanta Falcons ‘Best-Kept Secret’
After a lost 2021 season in which Ridley played just five games and a suspension through at least the entire 2022 season for gambling on football games, Ridley’s NFL future is suddenly very much in doubt,” wrote Davenport.
“What’s not in doubt is the fact that Atlanta badly needs to do something about a pass rush that logged fewer sacks as a team (18) in 2021 than T.J. Watt of the Pittsburgh Steelers had all by himself (22.5).”
“No. really. It’s true. Sad. But True.”
“Josh Sweat has yet to have a true breakout season. But the best year of his professional career came in 2021—a 45-tackle, 7.5-sack effort that landed Sweat the first Pro Bowl nod of his career and a three-year, $40 million extension.”
Ironically Davenport has Ridley going to the Baltimore Ravens with the No. 32 overall pick. His reasoning is that his production in 2020 would have helped the Ravens when a Super Bowl, and the No. 32 overall pick is worth the short-term investment in Ridley.
The Falcons on the other hand have been in a steady decline since 2017 with a shimmering of a bounce back under coach Arthur Smith and general manager Terry Fontenot.
Fontenot hit with No. 4 overall Kyle Pitts in 2021, and he’ll need 2022 first-round pick Drake London to have a similar impact as Pitts if the Falcons want to avoid a step backward in 2022.