The concept of Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ridder as a future NFL superstar exists somewhere between the defense lining up pre-snap and the moment the ball leaves his hand. That’s where he’s at his best.
Ridder is this year’s most refined and technical draft-eligible quarterback from his pre-snap to post-snap processing, his dropback footwork and his pocket movement. He’s the type of prospect that — in a just world — would turn into a top NFL signal-caller. Sadly, the world of quarterback evaluation and quarterback play is cruel, barbarous and wicked. And it makes Ridder’s floor and ceiling unclear.
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Ridder is your favorite quarterback’s favorite quarterback. He’s a quarterback coach’s dream. He joined Cincinnati as a three-star prospect and the 1,657th ranked player in the country, according to 247 Sports, and since then it’s been a journey of improvement every season, culminating in him leading the Bearcats to the College Football Playoff in 2021. You can see all the drill work that every quarterback coach in football at any level of the sport teaches on a daily basis on Ridder’s tape. He could be studied for future generations. That’s how good his technique is.
His timing is the best in the class. His decision-making is the best in the class. He shows an ability to adapt his footwork during the play that not many other quarterbacks can do. He’s calm in the pocket as he lets his feet take him to the different route progression on each concept. He stays on time even with pressure. His footwork aims him in the right direction every time.
Take this throw against Miami (OH) in 2021:
The Bearcats have a “drive” concept called. The core part of the call is between the right outside receiver running a post, the right slot receiver running a basic and the left slot running the shallow cross. The quarterback has the opportunity to forego the concept and throw the out route to the left outside receiver if he feels he is getting an advantageous look pre-snap and then post-snap, which he does.