Wide receiver Calvin Ridley has yet to play a snap in the regular season for the Jacksonville Jaguars but he's already generating lots of anticipation. Not only is he healthy and ready to show everyone that he's still great after being away from football for more than a year but the fact that he'll be catching passes from Trevor Lawrence makes him an intriguing player to watch.
Kevin Patra of NFL Media recognizes how huge the Lawrence-to-Ridley connection can be in 2023 and gave them the No. 3 spot in his top 10 of quarterback/receiver combos in the NFL. Patra argues that Lawrence improved under head coach Doug Pederson and thinks that the addition of Ridley should help him get much better next season.
"Lawrence took a huge step forward in his first season under Doug Pederson, displaying the dynamic passing ability that made the Clemson product a no-brainer No. 1 overall pick in 2021. now, the 23-year-old is looking to take the next step on the path to superstardom. The addition of Ridley -- whom Jacksonville acquired last November, during his season-long suspension for betting on NFL games -- should help Lawrence traverse the trial. "
In spite of how talented Lawrence was coming out of college, he couldn't overcome many of the challenges he faced as a rookie. Besides not having an competent coach at the helm, the former Clemson Tiger didn't have enough weapons at his disposal. That changed last year though.
Besides hiring Doug Pederson to right the ship, the Jags made several important additions in free agency to upgrade Lawrence's supporting cast. The results were evident right out of the gate, as he showed improvement in nearly every meaningful metric in his sophomore campaign. But the team's brass wasn't done adding talent and traded for Ridley before last year's deadline despite the fact that he was facing a suspension for betting on NFL games.
Now reinstated and ready to go, Ridley is ready to take his place as one of the top receivers in the league. So far, the Florida native has been as good as advertised and has made a strong impression throughout offseason workouts, which is why it's easy to picture him becoming the No. 1 target on the Jaguars' offense next season.
The Jaguars combo of Trevor Lawrence and Calvin Ridley is getting the spotlight
This isn't the first time the Lawrence/Ridley tandem has gotten the spotlight. Jeff Kerr of CBS Sports also ranked them No. 3 on his list this past May. The difference is that Patra believes the second-best combo is Lamar Jackson and Odell Beckham while Kerr thinks Dak Prescott and Brandin Cooks deserve that spot.
Either way, you will probably be hard-press to find someone who doesn't think Lawrence is becoming one of the top quarterbacks in the league and the addition of Ridley should help him take his game to the next level.
Even without Ridley, Lawrence would have a pair of talented receivers in Christian Kirk and Zay Jones, both of whom posted career numbers in their first season in Jacksonville. However, Ridley has the potential to turn the offense into one of the top 5, maybe 3, in the league if the offensive line gels after undergoing a few changes in the offseason.
It's true that the Jacksonville Jaguars struggle to win games throughout most of the 2010s. But after all the improvements they've made over the last two years, it's becoming increasingly hard to not take them seriously.