I don’t know if it was the draft value or the actual player, but almost every single national media outlet has praised the Falcons for their work in last month’s draft, specifically the Desmond Ridder selection. Jim Nagy complimented the pick, Pro Football Focus was also very fond of Ridder, Ted Nguyen of The Athletic had Drake London and Ridder as two of his favorite scheme fits from the entire 2022 draft class, a former All-Pro receiver praised the Ridder pick, and Jordan Palmer said more of the same about the Cincinnati product.
The consensus is the Falcons nailed the quarterback selection. And when looking at his collegiate records and accolades, it is hard to argue. Ridder totaled 10,239 passing yards and 87 touchdowns to only 28 interceptions throughout his four-year career with the Bearcats. He added another 29 touchdowns and 2,188 yards on the ground as well. Ridder also won the AAC Rookie of the Year, the AAC Offensive Player of the Year twice, and never lost a game at home. Moreover, he led Cincy as the first non-Power 5 program to the College Football Playoffs.
It isn’t difficult to see what the Falcons’ front office and coaching staff saw in him. However, we don’t have to wonder. Tori McElhaney of the Atlanta Falcons website had some pretty incredible quotes from interviews with individuals from the staff and front office on exactly why the team chose Ridder. Be sure to check out the full article, but here are some of my favorite quotes:
“This kid has a big chip on his shoulder and a lot to prove,” Falcons assistant director of college scouting Dwaune Jones said.
“Winning is contagious and Desmond Ridder’s a winner,” Jones added. “It permeates the whole building because he’s a guy who’s going to have command of the entire locker room. He’s going to demand respect as well. A guy like that, he’s going to do his absolutely best to hit his ceiling.”
“It was the same thing you saw on tape: a very athletic player, good arm, good anticipation,” Falcons quarterback coach Charles London listed. “A lot of the stuff we had seen on film his pro day confirmed it.”
“He’s a leader, though. You can tell that,” London continued. “You can tell when he’s around his teammates that he’s a leader… You can tell he’s a guy who wants to compete.”
“We fell in love with the kid,” Jones concluded. “It was a guy where we walked away (from him) impressed.”
If Falcons fans aren’t entirely sold on Ridder, I don’t know what to tell you. Obviously, we won’t know what Atlanta has in him until he gets on the field, but nobody should be completely negative about the selection. It is very rare for the media, players, and coaches to all sing a player’s praises, and he turns out to be a complete bust. Falcons may have found the next face of their franchise.