NFC South 2021: Falcons’ Calvin Ridley and other rookie contract players who are key to team success


The NFC South had much to brag about in 2020, as the division that hosts the Super Bowl champions in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as well as the team with the most NFL wins over the past four seasons in the New Orleans Saints (49). Tampa Bay and New Orleans are the favorites to fight for the division crown again, thanks to the amazing local talent that franchises have developed in recent years.

The Saints drafted very well despite their salary cap issues, led by the famous 2017 draft which landed Alvin Kamara, Ryan Ramczyk, Marcus Williams and Trey Hendrickson. The Buccaneers have had an even more impressive draw since 2017, with Chris Godwin, Devin White, Carlton Davis, Vita Vea, Sean Murphy-Bunting, Antoine Winfield Jr. and many more playing central roles in the Super Bowl title. LV.

Developing local players is key to success in the NFL, resulting in annual playoff appearances and occasional playoff races. The Saints and Buccaneers are two of the league’s best at developing local talent, as the Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons look to copy their formula for success.

Here’s a look at one player on his rookie deal on each NFC South team that will play a huge role for their respective franchise in 2021:

Saints: Ryan Ramczyk, RT

Player experience: Fifth season
How acquired: 2017 project (First round, 32nd overall)

Soon to be one of football‘s highest paid tackles, Ramczyk is already declaring his case to be one of the best right-wing tackles in the game. A first-team All-Pro in 2019, Ramczyk has won second-team All- honors. Pro in 2020 after allowing just 25 presses, two quarterback hits and two sacks in 565 pass blocking snaps (pressures allowed per recoil rate of 4.4%). Ramczyk has only allowed three sacks in the past two years, for a total of 2,010 snaps.

Ramczyk is on his fifth-year option at $ 11.064 million, so we’ll be counting him on his rookie deal. He is key for either Taysom Hill or Jameis Winston to be successful this season, as he will be responsible for keeping both quarterbacks standing. There is no more important player on the Saints’ offense than Ramczyk in 2021 – and that includes Alvin Kamara.

Buccaneers: Devin White, ILB

Player experience: The third season
How acquired: 2019 project (First round, 5th overall)

Most single-game tackles in Buccaneers playoff history? That honor belongs to White, who also holds the # 2 and # 3 spots on this list – and he’s only made three playoff games! White was a dominant force on the defense against Tampa Bay’s No.1 ranked run in 2020 (the Buccaneers allowed the fewest rushing yards, fewest rushing touchdowns, and fewest rushing yards allowed), finishing with 140 tackles, 16 quarterback hits and nine sacks in 15 Games. Keep in mind this was only his second season in the league, and White led inside linebackers in quarterback sacks and hits.

White is the first player with over 100 tackles and nine sacks in a season since 2012 and one of four players with over 200 tackles and over 10 sacks in their first two seasons since 1982 (Brian Urlacher, Darius Leonard , Duane Bickett). He’s one of the best players on one of the best defenses in the league – and he still has two years left on his rookie deal. White is already one of the best inside linebackers in the game.

Player experience: Fourth season
How acquired: Draft 2018 (First round, n ° 24 in the general classification)

It’s hard to believe Moore is still on a rookie contract since he’s been one of the league’s most productive spreaders. Moore is fifth in receiving yards (2,368) among wide receivers over the past two seasons and is the only wide receiver with at least 1,200 scrum yards in each of the past two seasons. One of the league’s biggest big play threats, Moore was third in the league with 18.1 yards per catch last season and his five over 50-yard touchdowns are fourth among wide receivers in the over the past three years.

Moore’s 3,156 career yards rank seventh in NFL history for players 23 and under – not bad for a player who just turned 24 in April. The Panthers still have Moore for another year on his rookie contract before his $ 11.116 million fifth-year option kicks off – with a contract extension looming. Moore is expected to thrive in Joe Brady’s second year of offense, with a much improved Sam Darnold quarterback throwing him assists.

Player experience: Fourth season
How acquired: Draft 2018 (First round, n ° 26 in total)

Julio Jones is no longer with the Falcons, which leaves Atlanta fans wondering if Ridley is ready to take over as the No.1 wide receiver. Fear not, Ridley has been incredibly productive in all seven games. that Jones did not play last season, averaging 11.3 targets per game and 109.3 yards per game – a season he finished with 90 catches for 1,374 yards and nine touchdowns while making a average career. -High 15.3 yards per catch. He was also fourth in the league in yards per game (91.6).

Ridley is just one of six players with 3,000 receiving yards and 25 touchdowns since entering the league in 2018 – joining Davante Adams, Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, Tyler Lockett and Mike Evans in that category. Ridley’s 26 career touchdowns rank first in the 2018 draft and his 3,061 yards and 9.33 yards per target are only behind DJ Moore. It’s a year for Ridley to prove to the Falcons he’s a No.1 wide receiver – with a huge contract extension lurking.

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