Marcus Mariota Seems to Be 'Far Ahead' of Desmond Ridder as Falcons' Starting QB

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVJune 30, 2022

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JANUARY 09: Alohi Gilman #32 of the Los Angeles Chargers tackles Marcus Mariota #8 of the Las Vegas Raiders during the fourth quarter at Allegiant Stadium on January 09, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images)
Steve Marcus/Getty Images

A quarterback controversy does not appear to be brewing in Atlanta.

Michael Rothstein of ESPN reported Marcus Mariota is "far ahead" of third-round pick Desmond Ridder in the competition. Rothstein gave Ridder just a 5 percent chance of starting under center in Week 1.

This should come as no surprise, given it's rare for a third-round quarterback to be thrust into the starting lineup early in the season. The last quarterback taken in the third round to start in Week 1 was Russell Wilson a decade ago. The history of successes for third-round quarterbacks is minimal.

Houston Texans quarterback Davis Mills showed potential after being taken in Round 3 a year ago, but the 2022 quarterback class is considered inferior to its predecessor, and only one signal-caller was taken in the first two rounds.

Ridder showed promise at Cincinnati but was bound to be more of a project quarterback than a plug-and-play option.

Mariota, who is slated to replace longtime Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan under center, has reportedly been impressive during the team's offseason training program. He also had familiarity with head coach Arthur Smith after the pair shared time with the Tennessee Titans from 2015 to 2019.

"You just watch his play and body language,” Smith told reporters of Mariota's comfort in the offense. “Especially when you've been around a guy for a long time and there's certain mannerisms. He does feel comfortable and that's good especially this time of year as we crank it up and get into the preseason and more competitive practices. Hopefully, that stays the same."

The Falcons are expected to be among the worst teams in football next season, so Ridder could get a chance if they don't outperform expectations. That said, his chance to start likely won't come until Mariota suffers an injury or the Falcons' season falls apart.