Falcons players gravitating toward rookie QB Desmond Ridder’s leadership

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The Falcons will have an exciting battle at the most important position in all of sports — quarterback. After trading Matt Ryan to the Colts, the team quickly signed veteran signal caller Marcus Mariota and drafted decorated Cincinnati prospect Desmond Ridder in the third round of the NFL Draft.

For much of the offseason, though, it’s been the former No. 2 overall pick and Heisman Trophy winner taking the first-team snaps. However, I wouldn’t be so sure that Ridder should be written off to steal the job from the injury-prone Mariota.

The veteran in the room is still the favorite to lead the offense come Week 1, but Ridder is absorbing as much information as he possibly can from his mentor to eventually take the reigns.

The rookie is learning to watch film, taking care of his body, the offensive playbook, and how NFL defenses operate. It can be overwhelming, but Ridder is taking everything in stride. He’s proactive in his eagerness to learn, constantly communicating with Charles London and Arthur Smith even outside of practice.

“Some of the physical things you’ll see in time will catch up,” Smith said. “But he’s light-years ahead of most young quarterbacks from the neck up, and I will give him that compliment.”

A signal caller’s mental makeup is what separates him from the rest, and it seems Ridder has all the intangibles organizations seek in their franchise quarterback. Being a leader isn’t easy, especially for someone as green as Ridder, but that hasn’t stopped Falcons players from gravitating toward the young man.

“Guys kind of gravitate to him,” London said. “He’s a natural leader, and leadership is hard. It’s hard to judge somebody’s leadership. People can tell you he’s a leader, but most guys that are really great leaders, they lead by their own style, their own way.”

Even if he doesn’t unseat Mariota this year, it seems the Falcons have the right guy in the building with Ridder.

Photographer: Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire

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