2022 NFL Rookie Draft Profile: Desmond Ridder (Fantasy Football)

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There has been a lot of chatter as of late about Cincinnati QBs. As Joe Burrow led the Cinderella Cincinnati Bengals into the Super Bowl, another Ohio QB looks to make a name for himself moving forward. Desmond Ridder, the QB of the Cincinnati Bearcats, will be entering the 2022 NFL Draft. Ridder led the first non-power five team since college football moved to its current playoff format in 2014 to a national semi-final. Even in an underwhelming draft class, Ridder looks to have potential.

After the hangover of the superstar QB class of 2021, we return to Earth, where the 2022 class is slightly murkier. This, coupled with the QB carousel involving the likes of Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers, and Deshaun Watson, it is tough to predict where and when Ridder will go. From Houston to Carolina and Atlanta to Denver, one could tell a tale of Ridder heading to any of these cities. Will it be a worthwhile investment?

After looking at Ridder’s college production, Senior Bowl experience, and measurables, let’s see what we have with this QB and his possible fantasy outlook. Remember to check out our 2021 NFL Draft content in the Dynasty Pass, part of the 2022 UDK+ while waiting for the April Rookie Preview show on the Fantasy Footballers podcast.

College Production Profile

Games Attempts Completion % Passing yards TD INT
2018 13 311 62.4 2445 20 5
2019 13 325 55.1 2164 18 9
2020 10 281 66.2 2296 19 6
2021 14 387 64.9 3334 30 8

One of the first things that jump out when watching Ridder play is he is a running QB with a decent arm. Becoming the Bearcats QB as a redshirt freshman, he consistently improved on yards and TDs thrown after a slight dip in 2019. As frequently said on the podcast, running QBs offer a fantasy baseline production that is hard to beat for draft day. I compared Ridder’s college rushing numbers with the collegiate numbers of current rush-centric NFL QBs, Lamar Jackson, Jalen Hurts, and Kyler Murray, to give a frame of reference as he enters his NFL career.

Lamar Jackson
Attempts Yards Avg. TD
2015 247 960 5.9 11
2016 409 1571 6 21
2017 430 1601 6.9 18
Jalen Hurts
Attempts Yards Avg. TD
2016 191 954 5 13
2017 154 855 5.6 8
2018 36 167 4.6 2
2019 233 1298 5.6 20
Kyler Murray
Attempts Yards Avg. TD
2015 53 335 6.3 1
2017 14 142 10.1 0
2018 140 1001 7.2 12

As you can see, while Ridder IS a rushing QB, his college numbers are nothing close to what some of the big rushing QBs currently in the NFL put up in their collegiate career. Ridder’s average over his college career falls most relative to Jalen Hurts, yet only had one year over 600 total rushing yards while each of these three men had at least one year in their college career clocking 1000 yards on the ground. As far as Cincinnati QBs go, Ridder ranks second in attempts, overall passing yards, and completion percentage. He is the all-time leader QB in rushing yards, attempts, and TDs and is the two-time AAC offensive player of the year. He led the Bearcats to a 13-1 season his Senior year, eventually losing to Alabama in the Cotton Bowl.

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Measurables

Height Weight Hand Size Arm Length Wingspan
6’3″ 207 10 inches 32 7/8 78 7/8

As of publication, we do not have testing numbers from the NFL Combine, but it is clear Ridder is a little thin when it comes to QBs. However, his long legs and slim frame allow him to quickly cover the ground when he runs. It would be beneficial for him to bulk up a bit heading into the draft – we will see what he weighs in at the Combine. According to grindingthemocks.com, data puts Ridder as being the 5th QB taken off the board, with a 29.8 expected draft position. We could see Ridder go at the end of the first round, but I think it is more likely he lasts into the second.

My process to evaluate player tape is simple. I like to watch 4-6 games and take good old-fashioned pen and paper notes on their offensive plays. I often also like to enjoy a snack.

What’s On Tape 

Games Viewed –  Alabama (2021), Notre Dame (2021), Houston (2021), Georgia (2021), Ohio State (2019)

Quick decision-making ability

  • Ridder can quickly escape the pocket when he senses a collapse and adjusts accordingly.
  • He is a player that would be great with short-designed runs. At the Senior Bowl, he had the second most positively graded throws during the practices and the game, according to PFF, behind only Malik Willis from Liberty, illustrating his strong decision-making skills. —
  • Although not consistently successful, Ridder’s ability to change the play and make a quick decision to run or modify his read is an excellent quality for an incoming NFL QB. All too often, we have seen QBs hesitate to make a decision as the pocket starts to collapse, resulting in a sack or an interception. Ridder seems to own his choices, good and bad, which, when married with some smoothing around the edges by a competent coach and system, can make a successful NFL QB. In his 2021 game against Notre Dame, you can see examples of Ridder owning his decisions. After being flushed from the pocket several times and unable to make a play, he did not try to be a hero and took the sack. Look, you want your QB to avoid that sack altogether, but often it is those hero throws from young QBs that result in pick-sixes

He shows poise, especially under pressure, and continually gets involved pre-snap

  • He is an observant QB who quickly recognizes coverage and adjusts accordingly. His poise, calm, and awareness are incredible assets for any NFL team. In the 2021 Cotton Bowl, Ridder had the worst game of the season and was sacked six times; however, he never looked flustered. His face still communicated an air of control, and he never looked like he felt the game was out of control for him.

There are some accuracy issues

  • There is no way to sugarcoat this; Ridder frequently has problems getting the football into his receivers’ hands. Often, he has the propensity to not throw to his receivers in stride. I saw multiple passes that his receivers had to turn around to catch – often, these players were wide open, so it was moot – but in the NFL, those passes will be picked off by cornerbacks who are reading Ridder’s eyes and the offense.
  •  He is inconsistent with his ball placement, translating to incomplete passes unless the WR is talented enough to make extreme adjustments to make the catch. Overthrown balls, of which I saw several in the Notre Dame game, seemed to be his go-to inaccurate throw.

What’s Not On Tape

Mental Game

  • Bearcats Head Coach Luke Fickell has said that Ridder is a meticulous man and loves a plan in every aspect of his life, working hard to be consistently prepared for whatever could be thrown at him. Pure QB talent will only get you so far. Teams looking for an actual potential franchise QB should be weighing the mind as much as the body, and Ridder seems to have precisely what it takes between the ears.
  • In the game against Houston, Ridder had especially good reads and quickly moved on to his second reads when necessary. He recognizes one on one coverage and tries to capitalize. Again, he is not always successful with his accuracy issues, but the fact that he sees this opportunity is what is important. Figuring things out post-snap, fixing them, and getting involved with recognizing coverage shows great mental awareness.

Overall Maturity

  • When breaking down Ridder’s overall improvement as an athlete, we see a solid upward momentum.
  • Ridder decided not to enter the draft after his junior season, doubting at that point he had pro-potential. He stayed another year in Cincinnati, and while improving his skills, he led the Bearcats to a banner year. Ridder became a father in his senior year, and this has changed and improved his overall mindset and increased his overall maturity.
  • Listening to Ridder in interviews, he does not sound like a kid just getting out of college looking to make it big in the NFL, and he comes across as a man who understands the work and sacrifice needed to be successful in a football career. Understanding his weaknesses, Ridder employed Jordan Palmer in the off-season to help with his accuracy. You know, that guy that helped Josh Allen. That worked out well for Josh, so let’s see if it does the same for Ridder moving forward.

Shotgun QB

  • The Bearcats operate their offense almost exclusively from the shotgun, frequently using RPOs and rarely allowing Ridder to throw very far downfield. You see him mainly throwing intermediate throws and slants, and he also does not seem to have much power behind his long throws. Of all of the deep balls I saw, they seemed very slow and had a tendency to drift. He needs to work on his overall arm strength and velocity.

2022 Fantasy Outlook

Desmond Ridder has a lot of tools in the toolbox. However, his accuracy is an issue, and with that, you cannot anticipate him being a Week 1 starter for any NFL team. Ridder’s best situation is to have a year or two under the tutelage of a seasoned veteran QB and a strong coaching staff to begin to smooth the edges on this statue of a successful QB. With less pure-driven talent than any of the top drafted rookie QBs from last year, we are left to wonder which direction Ridder will go when he turns pro. Are we looking at a player similar to Josh Allen who, with the right coaching, can fix his accuracy and become an elite-level guy in a few seasons? Or is this a Marcus Mariota situation, where Ridder never makes the big jump and becomes a career backup despite the talent?

The hope for Ridder to find value in fantasy, in my opinion, is to avoid being drafted by the first group of QB needy teams, often trying to bounce back from a bad record and get selected by a team where he can sit a season and learn the system from a strong coach and a veteran QB. Looking at nflmockdraftdatabase.com, the two most common landing spots for Ridder seem to be New Orleans or Detroit. I personally think he would be a good fit in Atlanta, learning from an aging Matt Ryan. Pittsburgh is another team that could be a fit for Ridder. Under the tutelage of Mike Tomlin with the ability to pass off the ball to Najee, Ridder would have a high baseline potential for success. Whether or not the Steelers will reach for a QB with their 20th pick is left to be seen. Ridder is someone to keep an eye on in rookie drafts. If he slips, and yet finds himself a home that will cultivate his talents, he is worth a stash in a Superflex league.

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