12 Jul Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati
Redshirt Senior | 6’4″ 216 lbs | Louisville, Kentucky | 8/31/1999
A three-year starter with good athleticism, poise, and the ability to extend plays but will need to improve his arm strength and accuracy.
Desmond Ridder is a quarterback from Cincinnati and a prospect in the 2022 NFL Draft. The Bearcats were the only FBS team to give Ridder a scholarship offer. Incoming coach Luke Fickell honored Ridder’s offer from the previous coaching staff, and he redshirted his first year there in 2017. In 2018, he did not win the starting job out of camp but took over after only two offensive series and did not let go for the next three seasons. Ridder won AAC Freshman of the Year and won 31 of his 34 starts for Cincinnati.
The Bearcats’ offense is relatively simple, utilizing a lot of RPOs and rarely attacking downfield. Operating almost exclusively from Shotgun within 2×2 alignments with condensed formations, Ridder is mostly asked to execute short passes to all areas of the field; but he is also used as part of the running game. He is rarely asked to attack the intermediate middle of the field area or push the ball vertically downfield. He mostly throws slants, speed/blaze outs, and spot/snag routes.
– Good mental processing: does a lot at the line of scrimmage to change plays and adjust line protections; able to identify favorable matchups pre-snap and attack them post-snap; solid at surveying the defense after the snap, working through reads, and displays an understanding of game situation and context.
– Very good poise in the pocket: stands tall and delivers the ball well as the pocket shrinks; takes hits in the pocket without fear; smoothly slides up in the pocket to deliver throws.
– Solid decision-making: rarely puts the ball at risk when selecting a target; quick and decisive on RPOs, delivering ball quickly to the appropriate receiver; reads concepts well, and understands how to attack defenses weak spots, specifically in the short areas of the field.
– Good mechanics: plays well in rhythm offense with quick throws, aligning feet, hips, and shoulders to target; light on his feet and consistently steps into his throws; rapid whip-like release helps get the ball out quickly.
– Good ability to extend the play from inside or outside the pocket: quick feet and good athleticism help him move around fluidly and dodge rushers in the pocket without lowering his eyes; has the speed to get outside the pocket and make short throws on the run or tuck it and scramble.
– Can be an asset as a runner: has very good vision once he breaks past the line of scrimmage, understanding angles, and lanes; can make one or two defenders miss in the open field; long legs give him speed to eat up big chunks of yards quickly.
– Good competitive toughness: willing to take hits in the pocket and can deliver throws through contact; not afraid to put his head down as a runner and grind out extra yards; good leadership, as he assumed starting role very young and has held onto it; a calm leader with lots of success during his tenure; consistent and reliable in clutch situations.
Areas To Improve:
– Below-average accuracy: generally struggles to maintain consistent accuracy, especially the further downfield the throw is; relatively accurate on short throws, but placement is not ideal, as receivers do not get the opportunity to run after the catch, or they have to put their bodies in jeopardy to reel it in; throws behind receivers in the middle of the field and is scattershot on deep throws, partially due to lack of arm strength.
– Adequate arm strength for the NFL: ball gets where it needs to go in the middle of the field but lacks velocity; cannot push the ball vertically beyond 35 yards. Lack of power/velocity makes him reliant on mechanics when throwing from the pocket; rarely pushes the ball downfield when outside the pocket.
– Occasional lapses in judgment: throws to receivers too late, allowing the defender to make a play on the ball; gets locked onto his receiver sometimes and misses open receivers elsewhere.
– Has ball security issues: 30 career fumbles with some coming as part of the run game, but plenty coming from carelessness in the pocket.
– Is not an aggressive thrower: very happy to check down to running back or tight end in the flat and is gun-shy to attack the intermediate area of the field, both over the middle and outside the numbers; double-clutches throws sometimes even if the receiver is open.
– Injured his leg in the 2018 bowl game; returned in 2019 with no issues
– Missed the 2019 regular-season finale against Memphis due to throwing shoulder injury; allegedly suffered the injury early in the year against OSU and gutted it out.
Ridder is a very mentally sound quarterback: he displays an excellent understanding of operating the offense, deciphering the defense, and attacking weak points. He is very mentally and physically tough, displaying great poise in the pocket and a willingness to play through contact, both as a passer and runner. However, he lacks two crucial physical aspects to play quarterback at the next level: accuracy and arm strength. Ridder is solid making short throws, especially to the outside and to stationary receivers.
However, he frequently prevents his receivers from creating yards after catch by placing the ball poorly. Furthermore, his lack of arm strength prevents him from attacking the intermediate and deep areas of the field. Ridder generally struggles to deliver catchable balls further than 15 yards down the field and cannot throw the ball further than 40 yards downfield. A detrimental side effect is that he is also afraid to attempt throws in the intermediate area and is perfectly content to check down when a receiver is open downfield.
At this point, Ridder seems like a late-Day 2 or early-Day 3 pick that will need time to develop physically and catch up to the speed of the NFL. It seems unrealistic to expect or ask Ridder to drastically improve his arm strength going into his final collegiate season, especially given that he already has very good mechanics. However, even if he can improve his accuracy and the consistency of his ball placement on short and intermediate throws, he could play himself into early-Day 2 consideration.
Mitchell Wolfe is from Central Pennsylvania but loves all things Pittsburgh. He recently earned a Master’s degree in Sport Business with a concentration in Sports Analytics from Temple University. Mitch is a graduate of The Scouting Academy and has worked for Pro Football Focus as well. He is interested in developing ways to incorporate data-based decision-making into the scouting and drafting process. In his spare time, Mitch likes to play video games, read about history, or spend time with his fiance and their pets.