Atlanta Falcons rookie quarterback Desmond Ridder has made a strong impression so far during the team's offseason program.
Falcons head coach Arthur Smith had some high praise for the former Cincinnati signal-caller, noting that his mental makeup is well beyond his years.
"Behind the scenes, the things that he has done, as a rookie, really from the neck up," Smith said Wednesday. "How he's operating, when we're doing the rookie walk-throughs, when we do these installations and on the field, and his command. ... He's light-years ahead of most young quarterbacks, in terms of playing from the neck up. I will give him that compliment."
Smith further explained that Ridder is fulfilling the expectations that the Falcons had of him when they selected him in the third round of the 2022 NFL draft.
"There's a lot that goes into the scouting of a player, from the area scout to the national scout telling us how people talk about him," Smith said. "There's our experience and the ability to meet with the player and what we took away from that and on film. We were excited about him. That's why we took him."
A four-year starter for the Bearcats, Ridder enjoyed his most prolific season as a senior in 2021. He completed 64.9 percent of his passes for 3,334 yards, 30 touchdowns and eight interceptions.
The 6'3", 207-pound Ridder will likely play behind veteran quarterback Marcus Mariota at the start of the 2022 season. Ridder said he's even surprised himself with how quickly he's developed an understanding of Atlanta's offense.
"The overall knowledge of the offense–I'm not going to lie, I thought I would come in struggle a little bit," Ridder said. "We're almost all the way through all of our installs and putting in all those checks, and I have a good grasp of it. That surprised me, honestly. I'm not saying wouldn't have picked it up, but I thought it might've taken a bit longer, a couple of extra days. I've been able to pick up on it pretty smoothly."