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Desmond Ridder Drafted by Falcons: Atlanta's Updated Depth Chart After Round 3

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVApril 30, 2022

Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ridder (9) prepares to throw the ball against East Carolina during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Greenville, N.C., Friday, Nov. 26, 2021. (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker)
AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker

The Atlanta Falcons selected Cincinnati star Desmond Ridder with the No. 74 overall pick in the 2022 NFL draft.

The 22-year-old was the No. 1 quarterback and No. 17 overall player on the B/R NFL scouting department's big board. He's now the second QB off the board behind only Pittsburgh's Kenny Pickett, who went in the first round.

Here's how the former Bearcats signal-caller fits in Atlanta's quarterback depth chart: Marcus Mariota, Desmond Ridder, Feleipe Franks.

Cincinnati made history in 2021 as the first Group of Five program to crash the College Football Playoff party. Ridder was a big reason for that success, throwing for 3,334 yards, 30 touchdowns and eight interceptions while running for 355 yards and six scores.

The Bearcats were ultimately overmatched by Alabama in the Cotton Bowl, and Ridder finished 17-of-32 for 144 yards as the offense mustered just six points and 218 total yards.

That performance did little to dent his draft stock, though.

B/R NFL scout Nate Tice compared the 6'3" signal-caller to Dallas Cowboys star Dak Prescott, noting Ridder has impressive mobility but excels as a traditional QB out of the pocket:

"Ridder also shows an advanced pre-snap operation, adjusting protections and moving his teammates around as needed in a calm manner. His processing also shows up when progressing on passing concepts. He keeps his eyes downfield and shows the ability to truly get through multiple read plays. When paired with his very good pocket movement, he is able to get to the correct throw on a variety of different passing plays."

The Louisville, Kentucky, native participated in the Senior Bowl, which helped solidify his status as one of the best players at his position. In the event itself, he looked good en route to throwing for 68 yards and one touchdown on eight attempts.

Cincinnati Football @GoBearcatsFB

"That is a big time throw by <a href="https://twitter.com/desmondridder?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@desmondridder</a>."<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Bearcats?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Bearcats</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TheDraftStartsInMOBILE?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#TheDraftStartsInMOBILE</a> <br>📺: <a href="https://twitter.com/seniorbowl?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@seniorbowl</a> on <a href="https://twitter.com/nflnetwork?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@nflnetwork</a> <a href="https://t.co/S3DIZhJP0b">pic.twitter.com/S3DIZhJP0b</a>

NFL Network @nflnetwork

.<a href="https://twitter.com/desmondridder?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@desmondridder</a> rolls out and finds <a href="https://twitter.com/jqfergy11?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@jqfergy11</a> who rumbles for the TD!<a href="https://twitter.com/GoBearcatsFB?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@GoBearcatsFB</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/BadgerFootball?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@BadgerFootball</a> <br><br>📺: <a href="https://twitter.com/seniorbowl?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@seniorbowl</a> on NFL Network <a href="https://t.co/8Wpkmt5BrO">pic.twitter.com/8Wpkmt5BrO</a>

Pro Football Focus' Anthony Treash also described Ridder as "arguably the biggest winner of the bunch" during Senior Bowl practices, which is when NFL personnel does a lot of evaluating.

Ahead of the 2022 draft, much of the discussion about the quarterbacks was prefaced by how relatively weak the incoming group is.

In January, ESPN's Jeremy Fowler and Jordan Reid compared this year's draft to 2000 and 2013, when the first QB wasn't selected until the midway point of the first round. They added there wasn't much consensus as to the top prospect under center.

Because of how quickly first-year signal-callers are often thrust into the starting role, it seems reasonable to assume Ridder won't be riding the pine for too long. Tice added he "shows enough advanced play that he can start for an NFL team as a rookie."

Going from the AAC to the NFL will be an adjustment, but it's not hard to see why the Falcons were willing to gamble on Ridder.

This time last year, Atlanta passed on the opportunity to pick Justin Fields or Mac Jones as the potential long-term successor to Matt Ryan. With Ryan now a member of the Indianapolis Colts, the team couldn't go another offseason without identifying somebody who could inherit the four-time Pro Bowler's mantle.

The Falcons already signed Marcus Mariota, who likely has the inside track on the starting job for Week 1. Mariota's presence will allow the franchise to make Ridder's transition to the NFL a gradual one.