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College-to-pro projections for Cincinnati QB Desmond Ridder

Cincinnati Bearcats quarterback Desmond Ridder (9) throws a pass in the first quarter the NCAA Playoff Semifinal at the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic on Friday, Dec. 31, 2021, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Cotton Bowl Cincinnati Bearcats Alabama Crimson Tide Ac 386

The 2021 NFL season is officially over, and with that comes the unofficial start of NFL draft season.

We’ve already looked at some of the leaders in the barren 2022 quarterback class using our college-to-pro system, with Carson Strong and Malik Willis drawing mixed reviews thus far. 

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In this article, we will look at Cincinnati Bearcats quarterback Desmond Ridder. A four-year starter for the Bearcats, Ridder increased both his overall PFF grade and his PFF passing grade each season from 2019 to 2021. This past season, his 90.7 overall grade ranked 15th in the country, and he recorded 8.6 yards per pass attempt and 5.6 yards per carry on the ground.

This past season was the first in which Ridder didn’t generate over 700 yards rushing, largely because it was the first season in which he threw for over 2,500 yards.

When comparing the senior to other passers who have made it to the NFL, the data is not necessarily impressive:

Desmond Ridder’s percentile ranks in the most predictive passing variables, 2019-2021 season. Percentile ranks are against players with both NCAA and NFL passing data.

The picture looks much better if we use data from only the 2021 season, and the results from a clean pocket and on early downs are particularly impressive. The 6-foot-4, 215-pound quarterback still struggles to avoid mistakes, but teams can often overcome this shortfall — as we learned this season with Matthew Stafford.

Desmond Ridder’s percentile ranks for 2021 in the most predictive passing variables, 2021 season only. Percentile ranks are against players with both NCAA and NFL passing data.

Given there is a budding collection of smart people who have Ridder as QB1, it’s time for him to get our college-to-pro projection treatment:

Our college-to-pro system weighs data from recent seasons heavier than others and more stable data heavier than noisier data. We also adjust for competition and situations (i.e., how teams will use him when he gets to the league).

Our system allows us to permute through several situations, looking at a player’s first through fifth year in good situations and bad. Here is Ridder’s projection in his rookie year in league-average circumstances:

Ridder’s projected yards per attempt and completion percentage in a league-average environment for 2022.

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