QB Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati

6’4” – 215 lbs.

Background:

Two-star recruit who was recruited by Tommy Tuberville but played under Luke Fickell. Redshirted, then took over the starting job the following year, finishing with 2,445 passing yards (62.4%, 7.9 YPA), 20 touchdowns, and five interceptions. As a sophomore, went for 2,164 yards (55.1%, 6.7 YPA), 18 touchdowns, and nine interceptions, then saw his efficiency increase as a junior, a year in which he posted a line of 2,296 yards (66.2%, 8.2 YPA), 19 touchdowns, and six interceptions. Enjoyed his most productive season as a senior: 3,334 yards (64.9%, 8.6 YPA), 30 touchdowns, and eight interceptions. Also put together a 501-2,180-28 career line on the ground, including 592 yards and twelve touchdowns as a junior. Finished his career as one of the winningest quarterbacks in college history.

Positives:

Highly productive four-year starter for one of college football’s best teams in recent years. Solid size for a pro starter. Plays the game with composure. A dual-threat athletically, but with a pass-first mentality; looks comfortable hanging in the pocket when the protection is there. Some experience taking snaps from under center, typically working off of play-action. Clean footwork when dropping; no heel click. Has graceful throwing mechanics and made strides from year to year; looks relaxed, keeps his base wide, generates torque effectively, and has a high release point. Uses appropriate touch on bucket throws down the field, or when working against zone coverage. Shows some anticipation when attacking down the field; pretty aggressive about targeting receivers at the intermediate/deep levels, both down the sidelines and over the middle of the field. Able to escape pressure and buy time while keeping his eyes downfield. Capable of executing read-option plays, and was used frequently in that role at the college level.

Negatives:

Sometimes appears to lock into a target pre-snap, attempting throws into windows that never materialized. Arm talent and velocity are closer to average; big plays are often bucket throws. Ball placement and accuracy are not ideal. Can spray the ball around at times, particularly the further down the field he’s throwing; typically sails throws. Doesn’t always step all the way into passes, and attempts some throws off of his back foot against pressure. Lobs some balls into coverage down the field, perhaps trusting his receivers too much to make a play. Pocket awareness may be an issue; saw a few plays in which he didn’t seem to feel backside pressure. May be asked to add some additional bulk given his high workload as a rushing quarterback.

Summary:

A proven winner with impressive size, athleticism, and throwing mechanics, but whose actual arm talent and accuracy appear to be a little bit below what teams tend to look for at the position. Nonetheless, looks likely to come off the board in the first or second round as a relatively high-risk selection; teams will have to be confident that they can help him improve his pocket awareness, ball placement, and decision-making.

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