Can Desmond Ridder experience a sophomore leap like Trevor Lawrence? Jordan Palmer thinks so

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Is Desmond Ridder the Falcons next franchise quarterback? Nobody can answer that question just yet, but plenty of people are confident, going as far as to say he could have a breakout Year 2 campaign similar to Trevor Lawrence.

Ridder “is set up for success,” Jordan Palmer said. “I think that’s one of the best staffs in the league. He’s in a position to have a big second year just like I said 12 months ago about Trevor Lawrence.” Here are the former No. 1 overall’s two seasons:

  • 2021 stats: 59.% passing, 3,641 yards, 12 touchdowns, 17 interceptions
  • 2022 stats: 66.3% passing, 4,113 yards, 25 touchdowns, 8 interceptions. 

That is one of the most impressive sophomore leaps for a quarterback in recent memory. However, Lawrence has been a generational talent ever since he was recruited by Clemson. It would be unusual for a third-round pick like Desmond Ridder to experience the same exponential leap. Below is Ridder’s four-game stat line, along with those numbers over a 17-game span:

  • 2022 four-game stats: 63.5% passing, 708 yards, 2 touchdowns, 0 interceptions
  • 17-game pace: 63.5% passing, 3,0009 yards, 9 touchdowns, 0 interceptions

That would be an awe-inspiring rookie year if Desmond Ridder played the entire season, but that’s not exactly how things work. There’s no telling what kind of difficulties the rookie would’ve faced throughout a full season, but I can guarantee you he would’ve thrown interceptions. Ridder even had a few passes dropped by defenders in the four games he started.

Still, there’s reason to be optimistic about his future. The Falcons might not have the next Trevor Lawrence, but Ridder displays all the intangibles you see in other successful quarterbacks around the league.

“What I have personally experienced with him and I think the staff has experienced is how cerebral he is,” Jordan Palmer said. “He’s not like most rookies in his buy-in, attention to detail and work ethic. I’ve never seen him cut a corner in three years.”

There’s no telling what the Falcons do at the quarterback position this offseason. The front office could draft one of the highly touted prospects in the 2023 class. They could trade for a veteran — i.e., Derek Carr. Or they could sign a proven veteran off the free agent market to compete with Desmond Ridder for the job.

“It’s like any other position, you want to bring in good players, you want to develop the people in your building and you want to add competition,” Terry Fontenot said. “If you look at our quarterback room right now, we’re really excited about where we are and yet we’re going to keep adding players. We want to keep adding to the room.”

I believe the team is happy with his progress and desire to learn. Development in the NFL is never linear, and sometimes, it’s exponential, like we saw with Trevor Lawrence in 2023. Falcons fans should be excited about the way the team talks about Ridder.

“We keep talking about Desmond’s mindset and the way he carries himself and the way he works,” Fontenot said, “so we know he’s going to look at the good things he did and the things he needs to improve and have a great offseason and be ready to roll when it’s time to start playing ball again.”

Photographer: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire


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