Dynasty Prospect Scouting Report: Desmond Ridder
Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati
Height: 6’ 3”
40-yard dash: 4.52 seconds
Vertical jump: 36 inches
Broad Jump: 127 inches
Short Shuttle: 4.29 seconds
3-Cone: 7.15 seconds
Hand Size: 10 inches
*Editor's note: Ridder tossed 20 TDs passes in 2018, 18 in 2019, 19 in 2020 and 30 in 2021.
Ridder’s only offer out of high school came from Cincinnati.
So credit HC Luke Fickell for taking a chance on a 2/3-star prospect who, at the time, weighed just 178 pounds.
After a 2017 redshirt season, Ridder burst on the scene in 2018, tossing 20 TDs to just 5 INTs.
His performance dipped in 2019, as nagging injuries — including a right shoulder — limited production. But 2020 amounted to a turning point for the dual-threat passer, despite the COVID uncertainty.
In a shortened, 9-game regular season, Ridder led the Bearcats to a 9-0 record and nearly 38 points per game (17th in the nation). Facing a tough Georgia defense in the Peach Bowl, Ridder completed 64.9% of his passes for 2 TDs and 0 picks — despite taking 8 sacks.
2021 only cemented his status as a future pro. Cincy went 13-1, losing only to Alabama in the CFB Playoffs. And Ridder set career highs in pass attempts, yards per attempt, TDs and QB rating.
He exits college with 43 wins — 3rd most in FBS history. Having played 50 career games, Ridder has a major experience edge over his peers.
“I think the first thing that sets me apart is my experience,” Ridder said via ESPN. “I know [Pittsburgh QB Kenny Pickett] got a lot of experience, but for me, I went where I redshirted my freshman year and then I played the next four seasons only sitting one game. So, I played right at like 50 games in my career, so not only game experience, but just being in those game situations and almost seeing everything. You can't see everything that football has got to offer in 50 games, but you see a lot. For me, I think that experience is gonna show once you get to the next level, once you get to the league and OTAs.”
Ridder does show some veteran savvy on tape. But will his game translate to big-time fantasy success?
Games watched: South Florida (2021), Navy (2021), Indiana (2021), Tulane (2021), East Carolina (2020)
Let’s begin with a quote from Indiana DC Charlton Warren, whose squad was tasked with slowing Ridder down.
“It's hard to trick him,” Warren said via WDRB Louisville. “He’s seen a bunch of things. He can make checks. He's one of those guys [who] can truly hurt you with his arm, with his legs and with his brain. And so very accurate, very tough, very fast.”
Ridder’s arm strength comes across as above average on tape. But it's the poise and cerebral approach that gives him a shot at starting in the NFL long-term.
In this first throw, Ridder looks off zone coverage before delivering the ball away from potential trouble…
Next, you get a feel for Ridder's composure under pressure. Per Pro Football Focus, Ridder was under pressure on only 23.2% of dropbacks in 2021. That ranked 2nd fewest in the class among 45 QBs with 30+ dropbacks...
Yet PFF handed him the 7th best passing grade under pressure; 14th best when blitzed. So he doesn’t enter the league with concerns in either area — no surprise considering he's a 4-year starter.
Ridder excelled on deep balls last year, earning PFF's 3rd highest grade on such passes. In the next clip, he doesn't hit the WR in stride, but that could easily be because he's throwing a safe ball vs. a massive cushion. Notice the solid zip on the ball, too -- without really stepping into the throw.
Below, we see Ridder's ability to break the pocket and pick up yards. Think of Ridder like a Ryan Tannehill-level runner -- just don't consider him scramble happy. He scrambled just 20 times on 435 dropbacks last fall. And per PFF, his scramble rate dropped from 8.7% (2018-2020) to 4.5% in 2021.
You can tell he's wired to beat defenses with his arm first.
Ridder's decision-making was generally strong. PFF handed him a turnover-worthy play rate of only 2.0% -- one of the best in the class.
Still, he'd show some lapses on tape, like this last clip of him throwing late to the perimeter.
Consistency in ball location should be the main emphasis for Ridder going forward. Perhaps some of that will come from smoothing out his mechanics. But at times, you'd see him misfire on what should be "easy" passes, while at other times, he'd make tough throws look routine. It'll be something to monitor going forward, especially as passing windows shrink.
In a year with no “can’t-miss” QB prospects, Ridder stands out for a couple of reasons.
The guy’s played a ton of football. He’s made 50 appearances, and it’s clear to see the growth from early in his career to last season.
You could read that and say Ridder might be closer to his ceiling than most of his peers. And that might be true.
If it is, we could still be looking at a decent NFL passer with enough rushing ability to make a Ryan Tannehill-like impact. Tannehill, quietly, has returned 2 straight top-13 fantasy seasons.
The general sense is that Ridder will likely be a Round 1 pick in the NFL Draft. Pittsburgh, picking 20th, would be an enticing landing spot.
Fantasy-wise, Ridder will likely slot in 2nd or 3rd in this QB class behind Liberty’s Malik Willis.