Go Red, Go Black, Go… get drafted?
Several quarterbacks are expected to make the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft: Liberty’s Malik Willis and Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett are the top two passers expected on day one.
Leading the second wave of potential passers is Bearcats quarterback Desmond Ridder; Ridder, the redshirt senior, is coming off his best season with the Bearcats, throwing 30 touchdowns en route to a college football playoff appearance and consideration for Heisman.
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A strong showing from the NFL Combine only boosted Ridder’s stock through April 28. With more sporting tests (including a 4.52 dash from 40 yards) and a solid passing display helping his cause, Ridder could find his way into the back of the first round, or somewhere in the second at the latest.
Here’s who could try their luck on the Bearcats passer:
Desmond Ridder’s Simulation Project
1. New Orleans Saints (pick No. 18)
The Saints brought back Jameis Winston on a two-year contract, throwing a quick fix at the QB job unless Winston continues to move up in 2022.
Ridder has a strong arm, and the Saints’ offensive philosophy has lived on in the middle game since the twilight of the Drew Brees era. If he can fix his accuracy issues, then Ridder will fit in nicely on the New Orleans offense.
2. Pittsburgh Steelers (pick No. 20)
The Steelers have met Ridder – 17 teams have done so, in fact – and he would fit in well in the AFC North.
As quarterback options begin to run out for the Steelers, some expect Pittsburgh to attack the QB position in the first round of the 2022 draft. Ridder would fit well with the incredibly stable franchise, where Mitchell Trubisky wouldn’t be a huge roadblock.
Ridder is mobile, but not explosive, and offers good outside magic needed to survive against tough Division defenses.
3. Detroit Lions (pick No. 32)
Looks like that’s the sweet spot for Ridder: If there’s anything Dan Campbell (and the Lions in general) needs, it’s the winners.
It’s something of a lame, intangible thing, but all Ridder has done is win in Cincinnati, which will definitely help his case at the next level, if only in the locker room. Jared Goff isn’t long for Detroit either, if 2021 was any indication.
There’s a world where the Lions could wait for their second-round pick (No. 34), but the upside of having the fifth-year option on a first-round QB contract is too big to pass up.
4. Seattle Seahawks (pick No. 40)
If the Seahawks don’t land a quarterback before the draft — an outcome that looks increasingly likely — then they might have options in the draft; if not high in the first, then at the top of the second.
With Russell Wilson gone, using a second-round pick for Ridder makes sense: he would fit in well in a Pete Carroll-influenced ground attack, hiding his accuracy issues, his biggest flaw coming from Cincinnati.
5. Tennessee Titans (pick #26)
The Titans were in the Aaron Rodgers draw until they weren’t. Although Tennessee won’t be going door-to-door for a new QB, Ridder would give them a satisfying answer for their post-Tannehill years, which could come sooner rather than later.
Ridder provides similar measurables and arm strength to Ryan Tannehill, and with a strong supporting cast that includes AJ Brown and Derrick Henry, he wouldn’t have to go it alone.
Sitting on the bench for a season while Tannehill works his final year on the books, Ridder probably wouldn’t see the pitch, which is for the best for his development.