The Atlanta Falcons selected Desmond Ridder with the 74th overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. It'll be the first time he plays football outside of the Louisville/Cincinnati area in his life. He grew up in Kentucky, where he went to Holy Family Parochial before moving to St. Xavier High School. He became their starter as a wiry junior and turned into a better-built athlete as a senior. In his final year he had nearly as many rushing yards (915) as passing yards (951) with 28 total touchdowns.

The three-star prospect per 247Sports wound up with just two offers: One from Eastern Kentucky and one from Cincinnati, which he received while in a port-a-potty in the infield at Churchill Downs. Yes, really. Ridder's decision was to join Tommy Tuberville at Cincinnati, but Tuberville got fired before Ridder even got to Cincinnati. Ridder was allowed to stick around under new coach Luke Fickell, who cultivated Ridder from scout-team quarterback to redshirt-freshman starter in 2018, throwing 20 touchdowns and running for another five in 13 games, earning the American Athletic Conference's Rookie of the Year Award. By his junior and senior years, Ridder kicked things into high gear and notched back-to-back First-Team All-AAC and AAC Offensive Player of the Year Honors. His collegiate career ended with school-records in passing touchdowns (87) and most total yards (12,418). He also won the third-most games by any quarterback in college football history (44) and went undefeated in home games at Nippert Stadium (26-0).

Age as of Week 1: 23 | Height: 6-3 | Weight: 211 | 40-time: 4.52

Comparable body type to: Geno Smith

We're breaking down everything you need to know about Ridder from a Fantasy manager perspective, including Dynasty outlook, measurables, scouting report, key stats and an NFL comparison.

Fantasy outlook

Atlanta Falcons

You couldn't ask for a better landing spot for Ridder in terms of opportunity. Marcus Mariota is the only guy standing in his way to become the starter; Mariota himself hasn't started in two-and-a-half years and comes with some injury concerns. The offense the team installed for Mariota will also work for Ridder since he is a quick, run-willing passer who has plenty of experience in the RPO system. We could see Ridder playing for the Falcons by the midpoint of the season -- if not Week 1 if training camp goes his way. Ridder figures to be a waiver-wire add during the season except in two-QB and Superflex leagues, where someone will gamble on him by Round 7 or 8.

Dynasty outlook

The good news is that Ridder figures to get a chance to play as soon as 2022. The bad news is that his Round 3 draft capital will not preclude the Falcons from spending a first-round pick on a quarterback next year if they so choose. That means Ridder won't have a lot of time to prove himself to his coaching staff. Because every possible outcome, from becoming a second-year backup to transforming the franchise, is on the table, Ridder's going to be much more of an eye-of-the-beholder type of prospect in Fantasy, which means someone in every league will target him. That means he could be taken as soon as ninth overall in two-QB/Superflex formats and early Round 2 in one-QB leagues.

Scouting report


  • Experienced: Four-year starter at Cincinnati with a 44-6 record.
  • Ideal height for the position.
  • Though the majority of his throws were predetermined before the snap, Ridder proved capable of reading defenses both pre- and post-snap. There were a number of times he looked off a safety to draw a one-on-one matchup elsewhere. He also went through his progressions a number of times and even seemed to show improvement on that quality at Senior Bowl Week.
  • Can roll out of bed and run an RPO-style system with elements of a West Coast offense mixed in. Can also handle zone-read flawlessly.
  • At his best when throwing in rhythm in short and intermediate passing game.
  • Solid footwork helped him develop a clean base to throw off of.
  • Usually kept eyes downfield when he felt pressure and had to move.
  • Occasionally flashed incredible anticipation on his throws. There's definite potential here.
  • Has the arm strength to launch catchable bombs 40- to 45-yards downfield. Had 73 pass attempts that traveled 20-plus Air Yards (one fewer than Kenny Pickett).
  • Very willing to run and has been doing so since high school. Dual-threat player with solid speed and sudden burst when on the move.
  • Mature with a calm demeanor. Attribute shows up on and off the field. Seems to be bright and of high character.


  • Lean build could open him up to big hits and potential injuries. Wasn't anywhere close to a physical player in college. Only eight quarterbacks who attempted at least 100 passes last year weighed less than 215 pounds.
  • Offensive scheme at Cincinnati didn't ask Ridder to make a lot of reads from play to play, and the scheme did create a bunch of easy, designed throws. He may need some time to fully understand any NFL offense that isn't in line with what he was asked to do.
  • Needs coaching in terms of throwing motion. Delivery was smooth but often elongated (26 career batted passes with eight last year including four versus Alabama).
  • Pass velocity left a little to be desired -- he was more of a flicker and a lobber than a gunner. Accuracy was hit or miss. A retooling of his technique from toe to head should unlock Ridder's upside in terms of getting the ball out fast with improved velocity and, potentially, accuracy.
  • Would stare down receivers and got away with a bunch of turnover-worthy throws that he probably won't get away with on Sundays.
  • Pocket presence and awareness were spotty, sometimes drifting around the pocket rather than stabilizing his feet or climbing up. Would also sometimes not feel or see oncoming pressure and would be forced to scramble or get hit. Typical response to pass rush pressure was to run.
  • Sometimes struggled with sideline and far-field throws.
  • Not necessarily the best choice for Hail Mary passes -- arm strength capped out at about 45 Air Yards.
  • Truly benefited from playing against weaker-level competition in the American Conference. Can he step up adequately in the NFL? 

Stats breakdown

2021 v Top-253586317.35027391.41

Advanced stats to know

  • 73.9% adjusted completion rate in 2021 according to PFF (33rd among qualified quarterbacks)
  • 7.8% TD rate (16th)
  • 81 of 387 attempts were at/behind the line of scrimmage (41st - that's good)
  • 300 of his yards came on screen passes (48th)
  • 1,118 of his yards came on deep passes (10th)
  • 1,340 of his pass yards came after the catch (36th)
  • 29.1% TD rate on red-zone passes (33rd among qualifiers with at least 200 pass attempts)
  • Five career interceptions over 148 red-zone pass attempts (tied for 9th most among QBs over the past five years)

NFL comparison

There were times when I saw Ridder make plays that made me feel like I was watching Justin Fields. And there were also times where I felt like I was watching a much leaner Jalen Hurts. The jury is still out on both of those quarterbacks, just like it will be out on Ridder until he gets a chance to develop at the next level. I expect the draft capital to be much closer to that of Hurts than Fields, which means Ridder should have time on his side to grow his game and become an eventual NFL starter.