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2022 NFL draft scouting report: Cincinnati QB Desmond Ridder

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Cincinnati QB Desmond Ridder

6-foot-3
211 pounds

Yahoo Sports' 2022 NFL draft grade

6.00 — possible first-rounder; possible immediate starter

TL;DR scouting report

Experienced, athletic dual-threat passer who doesn't possess many special traits but has a much higher floor than many realize

The skinny

A 2-star Rivals recruit in the Class of 2017, Ridder committed to the Bearcats and redshirted his first season. In 2018, he was named AAC Rookie of the Year, starting 11 of 12 games, completing 62.4% of his passes for 2,445 yards, 20 TDs and five INTs, also rushing for 583 yards and five more scores. Ridder started 11 games in 2019, throwing for 2,164 yards, 18 TDs and nine picks and running for 650 yards and five more TDs.

In 2020, he was named AAC Offensive Player of the Year, passing for 2,296 yards, 19 TDs and six INTs and running for 592 yards and 12 more scores. Opting to return for his redshirt senior season, Ridder led the Bearcats to a 14-0 regular season and a spot in the College Football Playoff. He repeated as conference Player of the Year, throwing for 3,334 yards, 30 TDs and eight INTs and rushing for 365 yards and six TDs. Ridder competed at the 2022 Senior Bowl.

Desmond Ridder throws a pass during Cincinnati's pro day on March 24. (AP Photo/Aaron Doster)
Desmond Ridder throws a pass during Cincinnati's pro day on March 24. (AP Photo/Aaron Doster)

Upside

  • Very nice athlete for the position — ran and jumped very well at NFL combine

  • Good height and athletic build, plus big hands (10 inches)

  • Running ability an ace in the hole — effective as scrambler, designed runner

  • Gets feet set up quickly before throwing — pretty clean mechanics

  • Goes through progressions before scrambling — has developed pass-first mentality

  • Quick, decisive processor capable of snap decisions — vastly improved since 2019

  • Handles pressure pretty well — cut down on sacks, sped up whole operation

  • Passing numbers not inflated by heavy screen game

  • Able to layer quality deep balls and give his receivers big-play chances

  • Surprising arm talent to thread the ball, putting most of the field in play

  • Smart with the football — doesn't take wild, unnecessary risks

  • Only 28 INTs in 1,304 career attempts, only one three-pick game in 49 college starts

  • Made clear strides as a player each of the past two seasons

  • Still not even 23 years old yet despite extensive experience

  • Sources say he's really matured past few years, especially after birth of daughter

  • Has put in the work the past few years to take big steps in his game

  • Led team to unprecedented undefeated 2021 regular season, spot in playoffs

  • Career record of 43-6 as starter — zero home losses; lost to Georgia, Ohio State, Bama

Downside

  • Lean build — already put on 40-ish pounds in college and might be maxed out

  • Fast straight-line runner but not really elusive — needs a runway to make big runs

  • Usually takes a few series to find his rhythm — slow starter

  • Accuracy/precision remain less than ideal, especially outside the numbers/intermediate routes

  • Doesn't lead his receivers well enough to maximize YAC potential

  • Surprising accuracy lapses on short throws — botches occasional layups

  • Throwing mechanics a touch slow/elongated — savvy DBs might be able to jump his passes

  • A few too many balls are batted down at the line

  • Ball handling has been a little shoddy — 36 career fumbles

  • Will need more exposure to NFL passing concepts, defensive looks

  • Might lack a killer instinct, even though his poise has improved

Best-suited destination

Ridder's extensive college experience could make him a Day 1 starting option for a team badly needing it. Ideally, he wouldn't be thrust into the lineup and can absorb some of the nuances of whatever offense he lands in. Ridder has the traits to fit in a rhythm passing game, but he needs to improve his touch just a bit. In time, he appears to have middling starter potential, and at worst he looks like a high-end backup who can have a job for a decade.

Among the teams that could consider him include the Steelers, Panthers, Falcons, Seahawks, Saints, Titans, Lions and Colts, among others.

Did you know

Ridder was coached in high school by Buffalo Bills 1986 first-rounder Will Wolford, a starting offensive lineman in the league for 13 seasons. Ridder's first scholarship offer came from former Cincinnati Bearcats offensive coordinator Zac Taylor — now the Bengals' head coach — before Taylor left for an assistant-coaching position with the Rams in 2017.

Player comp

Ridder gives us some Marcus Mariota vibes.

Expected draft range

Top 40, and he could sneak into the back half of Round 1.