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Calvin Ridley Suspended; Falcons Could Target New Top WR At Pick No. 8

Ohio State's Garrett Wilson may have made himself the top receiver in draft at Combine

INDIANAPOLIS -- Ohio State receiver Garrett Wilson didn't need to do much in Indianapolis to boost his draft stock. He did so anyway, though, and might have ended the conversation regarding who is this NFL Draft's top pass-catcher.

Wilson shined Thursday evening when working with the quarterbacks, receivers and tight ends at the NFL Scouting Combine. The former Buckeye blazed through the 40 at 4.38 and shined in running routes.

Every team saw Wilson's upside. That includes the Atlanta Falcons, who very well could pull the trigger at No. 8 on April 28 - especially now that they know that Calvin Ridley, suspended by the NFL for at least the 2022 season due to his gambling on league games - won't be available.

Wilson has been compared to Buffalo's Stefon Diggs. While he considers it a compliment, he hopes to be the first version of himself when taking the field on Sundays. 

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"Stefon Diggs is a great player and for someone to make that comparison is awesome," Wilson said. "I like to think I bring different things to the table. I don't want to strive to play like anyone. Everyone is special for their own reason." 

Wilson handled the responsibilities of being the top target at Ohio State. He earned All-American honors after recording 70 receptions for 1,058 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns. 

Wilson credits former NFL receiver and current Ohio State positions coach Brian Hartline for helping him improve routes and cuts. 

"He's the type of person who can show you what he wants to you do and will act it out for you," Wilson said. "He was only three or four years removed from the league when I got there and he was still really good at running routes."

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The Falcons are looking for early returns from their first-round pick.

Atlanta enters its offseason with concerns at receiver. General manager Terry Fontenot must decide on the future of fifth-year receiver Calvin Ridley. Although the organization hopes to keep him, he could be moved for the right price to free up his $11.1 million cap hit. 

Free agents include receivers Russell Gage, Olamide Zaccheaus and Tajae Sharpe, tight end Hayden Hurst and receiver/running back Cordarrelle Patterson.

Atlanta must get back on the positive side of the cap before anyone is re-signed. The Falcons are one of 11 teams currently over the allotted $208.8 million salary cap for 2022.

Atlanta has pressing needs at offensive line, running back, defensive line and safety, along with receiver. Those areas offer exceptional depth, allowing Fontenot to draft the best player available. 

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If that player were to be Wilson, it could be a hit with fans. Last year, Atlanta drafted tight end Kyle Pitts at No. 4. He recorded more than 1,000 receiving yards and made the Pro Bowl in his first season. 

Wilson says he can play inside or on the edge. He hopes to make a first-year impact like Ja'Marr Chase with the Cincinnati Bengals or Justin Jefferson with the Minnesota Vikings.

"Watching (Ja'Marr and Justin), that's what I want to be for a team," Wilson said. "That's what I plan on being as a game-changer for someone. That's the goal."