QB - ATL
Four-year starter at Cincinnati has intriguing mobility and an NFL-caliber arm, but he needs refinement. Ridder isn't likely to start early in his rookie season but will get a shot to replace Marcus Mariota as the Atlanta starter at some point.
Desmond Ridder falls in the same third-round bucket as Malik Willis and Matt Corral from this class. Marcus Mariota might have been signed as the team's bridge quarterback option, but that doesn't wipe Ridder off the map to possibly win the job out of camp. The draft capital doesn't ensure he'll be given that shot, but Arthur Smith knows Mariota quite well from their time in Tennessee. If Smith thinks Ridder can bring something more to the table or operate similarly to Mariota, he could win the starting call. Smith's love for play-action passing will help Ridder. Last year Matt Ryan ranked 11th in play-action dropback rate (minimum 200 dropbacks, per PFF). In 2021, Ridder was tied for 17th in play-action passing touchdowns out of 121 qualifying quarterbacks (minimum 200 dropbacks, per PFF).
Desmond Ridder made a strong push around NFL circles during his senior season, leading Cincinnati all the way to the College Football Playoff against Alabama. PFF's seventh-highest-graded 2022 draft-eligible quarterback then turned heads at the 2022 Senior Bowl, showcasing accuracy and polish.
Ridder also offers juice with his legs, having rushed for over 2,700 yards during his four-year career (58 per game). His athleticism was at the forefront of his testing at the NFL combine.
The Bearcats quarterback ran a 4.52 40-yard dash (96th percentile), jumped a 36″ vertical (92nd percentile), and 127″ broad jump (98th percentile).
From speed to predictive passing metrics working in his favor - 97th percentile passer on early downs per PFF (91.0) - the Cincinnati product possesses all the ingredients to become a fantasy-friendly quarterback at the next level.
Considering I have a cluster of rookie QBs in this range, Ridder will be most drafted one in rookie drafts because he costs the least.
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