The 2022 NFL draft class was known for many things: its defensive versatility, its gaggle of rangy receivers, its stout collection of offensive linemen.
One thing it wasn’t known for? Its quarterbacks.
The 2022 NFL Draft was billed as a historically weak one for teams seeking to bring in a franchise-changing quarterback. Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder was the second QB taken off the board. He went in the third round.
— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) April 30, 2022
Ridder wasn’t pleased with his draft position, a fact he made clear to Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot.
“It shouldn’t have taken this long,” Ridder told GM Terry Fontenot when the Falcons brass called him to tell him he was being drafted. “They done [expletive] up. I ain’t even gonna lie.”
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So, is this Desmond Ridder’s villain arc? Not necessarily. The former Bearcats gunslinger was a four-year starter during his time in Cincy. He rewrote the Bearcats’ record book, becoming one of the best quarterbacks in school history in the process.
It was something that drew the Falcons franchise to Ridder, according to Fontenot.
“Everything happens for a reason,” Fontenot told Ridder. “It’s exactly why you guys were playing so well in Cincinnati, that chip on the shoulder that y’all had, the way y’all played, the way y’all fought, the way y’all competed.”
Ridder wasn’t the only QB to have to wait to hear his name in the draft. Former Liberty QB Malik Willis, once considered a candidate to be the first quarterback off the board, had to wait until Day 3 to hear his name selected, too.
Still, Ridder is entering an interesting situation. Fontenot, head coach Arthur Smith and other Falcons personnel seemed delighted to be getting the 22-year old, clapping and high-fiving as they greeted Ridder over the phone. While Ridder had doubts over his long-term viability in some mocks, he clearly has some real talent. TSN’s Vinnie Iyer had him going No. 20 to the Steelers in his mock draft.
To get a potential first-round talent in the third is great business. Now, Ridder is set to join a youthful Falcons squad hoping to make a little noise in the NFC South. He should have an opportunity to compete with Marcus Mariota for the starting gig. And with Kyle Pitts, Cordarrelle Patterson and newcomer Drake London in the receiving mix, it should give Ridder a chance to grow as a playmaker.
Every cloud has a silver lining. Ridder may have just found his in Atlanta.