Rookie Profile: Desmond Ridder
Cincinnati - QB - 6’4” 216 lbs
Ridder coming out in this class is just too fitting. There is a lot to like and the potential to get excited about, but Ridder is far from a polished prospect and that matches the rest of this class. This class is going to end up either being full of studs or duds. The reality is, as raw as most of these prospects are, we won’t have answers for a few years on if this class is going to pan out.
Ridder’s athleticism is going to extend his shelf life in the NFL and give him a safer fantasy floor than one might initially think. Wherever he goes, he’s going to have some designed runs and move the chains. He’s able to make some LBs and most DL miss, but in the NFL, it’s a different ball game. He won’t be making very many people miss at the next level but he’s still going to be able to run. He’ll just need to learn how and when to slide properly so he isn’t taking a ton of hits.
This clip is a perfect example of what Ridder can be if everything goes according to plan for him. Everything he does in this play is great, except the throw could be a touch better. His first few reads aren’t there, he buys time while keeping both hands on the ball, his shoulders square, and his eyes downfield. He’s mobile enough to buy time and has the vision to see his guy coming open. The throw died on him as it got there, and the receiver had to make a great catch. It was an incredibly difficult throw to make, and he did, but that’s a good example of his arm strength. Good enough, but not special.
His footwork and mechanics are very meh. There are times he looks good and has no issues, then there are other times his mechanics are very ugly. Whether it is a heel click, crossing feet, or bouncing on his toes, he can be inconsistent which affects his accuracy. If you blitz him and hit him, he’s going to start short arming his throws and his mechanics are the first thing that goes out the window. I think he’ll need a coach who is going to stay patient and work with him on a regular basis with those mechanics.
Typically, when Ridder is going to throw to his left, he has a bad tell. He drifts and doesn’t line himself up properly. He becomes loose with his mechanics and in the NFL, teams will key in on this tendency. He completes this pass, but this is the best example of what I’m talking about. He has a clear pocket and could drop straight back. Instead, he drifts back to the left, doesn’t quite set up to make the proper throw, stares down his guy, and makes the throw. This pass was completed, but in the NFL if you drift, don’t set your feet, and stare like this, the DB is celebrating in the other endzone.
Ridder has a decent arm when it comes to power as well. It isn’t special and he doesn’t have the largest cannon, but he can throw with velocity and it’s going to be powerful enough for the NFL. He likes to sit back and sling it and he’s most comfortable when he’s on the move to his right.
His accuracy is spotty. He has the ability to place the ball right where it needs to be, but it isn’t on a regular basis. His deep balls can have a nice touch and beautiful arc on them but even those are hit and miss.
Ridder struggles to diagnose stuff at the line and see what’s coming. To be fair, in Cincinnati you aren’t dealing with it much. He also struggles from time to time going through his progressions and making his reads. He’ll lock on to a receiver and take a sack when he doesn’t need to. There are times when he becomes indecisive and will hold the ball and start taking sacks. I think at least to start his NFL career, Ridder will very likely struggle against creative NFL defenses. His coaching staff has to keep his confidence high and keep working with him during his potential struggles.
The upside for Ridder is clear and obvious. I think he would benefit from sitting for a year and trying to catch up with the NFL and the speed of the game. I also think he’d be best in a scheme where you rely on the RB and spread the ball around while making quick decisions.
Draft Grade: Late 1st or Early 2nd
Bust Potential: High
Upside: Top 15 QB upside