Who is Desmond Ridder?
Desmond Ridder is a really intriguing quarterback prospect. Five to ten years ago, he would have been looked at as a generational talent, but with the uptick in guys like Josh Allen, Trey Lance, and Patrick Mahomes who can do basically anything, his draft stock won’t be as high next year. I think he is going to be a really good, consistent quarterback, but I don’t see stardom coming his way. As an NFL quarterback, I see him in the same light as Jared Goff or Kirk Cousins. While he doesn’t necessarily play like those two quarterbacks, that’s the tier I see him playing at in the NFL. Both Goff and Cousisns are good quarterbacks, but I wouldn’t necessarily use a top ten pick to take either of them. The Cincinnati quarterback has brought a winning culture to the school and that in its own is impressive. Let’s talk about what he can do really well.
To be a successful NFL quarterback, you need to be intelligent above the shoulders. Ridder does an amazing job with his eyes, bouncing through his progressions and finding open receivers. Sticking with his eyes, he also knows how to manipulate the defense by looking down certain reads to open up other receivers. He doesn’t stay on a target for too long and he throws with incredible anticipation. There is a tremendous amount of zip on the ball on his first and second level throws and he hits his receivers perfectly in stride. When Ridder throws on rhythm with his feet, he can beat any defense. As a runner, he has similar athleticism to Ryan Tannehill. I mean he’s no Lamar Jackson, but that isn’t his game. He can be effective as a runner and Cincinnati is able to use him on read option plays. In the pocket, Ridder is special, but he can makes throws on the run as well. While I don’t expect Ridder to be an MVP or on the cover of Madden based on his playing style, I think he’ll be a really good starting quarterback in the NFL someday.
I believe Ridder’s ceiling is Ryan Tannehill. They have a similar playing style not just athletically speaking, but accuracy and intelligence wise. The only place where Tannehill really separates himself from Ridder, is on the deep ball. The arm strength is fine, he just isn’t accurate 25+ yards downfield. A lot of his issues have to deal with his footwork, he needs to do a better job at stepping through his throws. Ridder’s throwing mechanics also need to be cleaned up. The ball comes down so low which makes it easy for defensive linemen to swipe at and force fumbles. Back in the day, coaches used to preach against throwing across your body. Now with guys like Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford, quarterbacks do it all the time. I saw Ridder attempt to make a cross body throw twice and both times resulted in interceptions. I expect Ridder to be a really good game manager at the next level.
From a fit standpoint, I think Ridder would do well in a Sean McVay type of offense. Arthur Smith runs a west coast offense in Atlanta which would be perfect for Ridder especially because I compared him to Tannehill who actually had his best seasons under Smith. If Gary Kubiak is still in Minnesota next year, that would be another great fit for Ridder. Ridder should be a top 20 player in next years draft, but since quarterbacks get drafted so high, I can see him being a top ten pick.