6’4 | 215 LBS | 4JR | Louisville, Kentucky
Desmond Ridder is a talented dual-threat quarterback going into his 3rd season as the starter for the Bearcats. Of the “2nd tier” quarterbacks behind Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, & Trey Lance, Ridder was one of the few I have actually watched tape on so far.
First a little background on Desmond Ridder. He was a three-star recruit coming out of high school in Louisville, and received only a single offer which was, of course, from Cincinnati.
Ridder redshirted his first year on campus, but was thrust right into the starting spot in his redshirt freshman season in 2018. He had a very good year for a young quarterback, throwing for 2445 yards with 20 touchdowns and 5 interceptions through the air, and rushed for an additional 583 yards to go along with 5 touchdowns on the ground.
His numbers were slightly worse last season. Ridder threw for fewer yards (2164), two fewer touchdowns (8), two fewer passing touchdowns (18), and with 9 interceptions up from 5 the previous year, on a poor 55% completion percentage. That is opposed to the over 62% of his passes being completed in 2018. On the ground, however, Ridder’s numbers did go up.
Now onto his strengths and weaknesses.
Arm Strength: Ridder has a live arm and can push it downfield. Even when off-platform he can get it out deep.
Athleticism/Rushing ability: Ridder’s blend of size and athleticism allows him to escape pressure and keep plays alive, as well as perform as a productive runner. Cinci ran a lot of QB power runs as well as read-options and he runs tough.
Making something out of nothing: Like I said when noting his athleticism and rushing ability, he can evade the pocket and keep plays alive giving his receivers a chance to improvise and come back to the ball when plays break down.
Stares down receivers: Ridder will too often stare down receivers which lets the defense know where he is going with it.
Mechanics: Throwing motion needs work. Takes too long to wind up and get it out of his hands.
Accuracy: Ridder completed only 55% of his passes last season. He was dealing with a shoulder injury later in the year but had erratic games early on as well.
Decision making: Forces too many throws into tight coverage. Saw a lot of bad passes in the redzone especially.
Pocket presence: Escapes out of the pocket too early. Usually keeps his eyes downfield looking to pass when he does scramble to the outside which is good.
What to look for next season
First and foremost whether or not his accuracy will improve. A 55% completion percentage will take him off teams’ draft boards as the windows will be even smaller in the NFL.
The mechanics are also a huge area of concern. Not just when it comes to his throwing motion but when it comes to his footwork in the pocket. He throws off platform too much and needs to set his feet which will in turn help with his accuracy issues.
I’d also like to see Desmond Ridder make more throws too the outside. He favors throwing to his tight ends in between the hashes and attacking the middle of the field.
Last but not least important is whether or not he can consistently go through multiple progressions. He tended to go to his first read last season which is of course partly by design on some plays but not all.
Ridder has high upside but needs to get better at the little things. He’s got the arm talent and athleticism to intrigue NFL front offices but whether or not he can clean up the technical issues as well as his decision making are key in him becoming more than just a late-round project.
I’d expect his numbers to go up with his shoulder fully healed and another year of experience under his belt. Ridder will be looking to play closer to his freshman season than his sophomore season last year.