NFL Draft News and Rumors: Is Desmond Ridder a first-round pick?

The latest NFL Draft news and rumors state that Cincinnati QB Desmond Ridder may just sneak into the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft.

The 2022 NFL Draft is approaching quickly, and we’re bound to hear some interesting news and rumors ahead of time. The most recent information comes from the Queen City, as Cincinnati QB Desmond Ridder hopes to become just the second Bearcats quarterback selected in the first round. There’s a lot of discussion surrounding the quarterback class in the 2022 NFL Draft. Is it possible Ridder is viewed as a first-round pick?

NFL Draft News and Rumors: Is Desmond Ridder currently receiving first-round grades?

With a weak class at the quarterback position, there are a lot of “what ifs” surrounding this year’s signal-callers. As the news and rumors continue to swirl around Liberty QB Malik Willis potentially heading to the Detroit Lions with the second overall pick, the likelihood of a few more quarterbacks joining him in Round 1 continues to gain traction.

According to Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline, who spoke on the subject during PFN’s Draft Insiders, (which can be found every Tuesday at 8 PM ET on the PFN YouTube Channel) Ridder is firmly in that conversation.

“The one thing I’ve learned from talking with teams is that just about everybody has got a first-round grade on Desmond Ridder,” Pauline said on the latest episode of Draft Insiders. “People have been projecting him in the first round and the latest information I’ve been given backs that up.”

With the recent news trending in his favor, Ridder would join former Cincinnati QB Greg Cook as the only Bearcats signal-callers to be selected in the first round of the NFL Draft. Cook went to the Cincinnati Bengals with the fifth overall pick in the 1969 NFL Draft. Ridder, meanwhile, is set to become just the sixth former Cincinnati quarterback to be drafted at all.

What makes Ridder a potential first-round prospect?

The news of Ridder receiving first-round grades may be surprising, especially for those who only recently started watching his tape. Ridder displays some elite-level athletic traits and has a tremendous arm. He has the requisite measurables and certainly has done enough this offseason to warrant a closer look. Yet, the small sample size of the pre-draft process is dwarfed by Ridder’s complete body of work at Cincinnati.

It’s easy to miss the past four seasons at Cincinnati when evaluating Ridder. Alongside head coach Luke Fickell, Ridder transformed Cincinnati into not just a powerhouse among the Group of Five but a formidable national contender. Ridder left college football with the third-most all-time wins among signal-callers. He compiled a ridiculous 44 victories and threw for a career 10,239 passing yards.

Ridder brings documented success and the ability to lead a team to new heights. His 28 rushing touchdowns are a Cincinnati record for a quarterback, and his athleticism carried the Bearcats at times. Ridder amassed a school-record 12,418 all-purpose yards and an AAC-record 113 total touchdowns.

For all intents and purposes, he has what it takes to be a starting-caliber NFL quarterback. So, why does this news come as a surprise?

Concerns about his pro potential

Indeed, the news of Ridder receiving first-round grades from some NFL teams is a bit shocking. Despite his evident success, Ridder was erratic at times, inaccurate at others, and struggled in the face of pressure.

He saw an improvement year over year in just about every one of those facets, but the inaccuracy and sporadic play stayed with him. Some of it may be coachable as he learns to take the checkdown at the NFL level, but that’s a big question mark for a potential first-round selection.

Ridder’s leadership ability and winning nature may catapult him into the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft, but he certainly comes with warranted on-field concerns. It will be interesting to watch his career unfold, as his future coaching staff may be able to unlock his full potential.

And right now, it seems that a few NFL coaching staffs believe they’ll have the ability to do so.

Cam Mellor is the Senior Director of the College Football/NFL Draft vertical for Pro Football Network. You can find his writing here and follow him on Twitter: @CamMellor.

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