"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," free safety Ricardo Allen said, via Vaughn McClure of ESPN. "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."
During the draft process, Ridley was viewed by many scouts as the most pro-ready receiver, with polished route-running, explosive ability, and talent to line up across the formation.
"Comfort-wise, 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.
"Then on the field, the different depths of routes ... [Ridley was] so mindful to get it exactly right, the right depth. And as the practices went on, you saw more of the speed come because he had real assurance of the right spot, the right space, where to break guys off. So I'm encouraged. I really am. The speed, the athleticism, all the things you saw on tape, that came to life. I knew he was a good competitor. I probably didn't know how strong a football IQ he has. You can tell he's really equipped in that way."
The Falcons viewed Ridley as a perfect complement to Jones, not a replacement for the disgruntled star. Julio's holdout might have had an ancillary benefit to Atlanta's offense: Ridley got more reps with Matt Ryan.
If the rookie bursts out of the gate in 2018, the Falcons offense could own the most dynamic unit in the NFL.