Desmond Ridder

Poll: Which Rookie QB Will Make Most Starts In 2022?

As players widely linked to first-round destinations fell into the third, the long run of skepticism about this year’s quarterback class manifested itself. While this was the lowest-rated quarterback crop since at least the 2013 class, a few of these passers have paths to early playing time.

Russell Wilson‘s rapid rise notwithstanding, third-round QBs do not have an extensive track record for extended QB1 run as rookies. Only six non-Wilson Round 3 QBs (Joe Ferguson, Mike Glennon, Chris Chandler, Davis Mills, John Hadl and Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton) made at least 10 starts as rookies. (Wilson is the only third-round QB to start a full season.) The bar is low for the likes of Desmond Ridder, Malik Willis and Matt Corral, but they each landed in interesting situations.

Conversations around starter promotions for this year’s class must first include Kenny Pickett, who ended up going 54 spots before the next quarterback came off the board. The Pittsburgh alum, who will turn 24 next month, was a four-year starter at the ACC school. Pickett’s NFL entrance looks similar to new teammate Mitchell Trubisky‘s. The No. 2 overall choice in 2017, Trubisky unseated Glennon after the latter signed with the Bears that offseason. A value gap between being picked second and 20th certainly exists, but the Steelers clearly have Pickett penciled in as their long-term preference.

Four of the five QBs taken in last year’s first round were full-time starters by September, while three of the four 2020 first-rounders moved to the top depth chart position by October. The Steelers bumped 2004 No. 11 overall pick Ben Roethlisberger into their lineup in Week 3 of his rookie year, following a Tommy Maddox injury. How eager will they be to put Pickett out there? Trubisky has 50 career starts to his credit, and the oft-maligned Bears draftee rebuilt his value in Buffalo — to some degree — to create a bit of a market in March. A Trubisky-Mason Rudolph depth chart adds some fuel to a scenario in which Pickett waits a bit before taking the reins.

The second quarterback chosen this year, Ridder joins a Falcons team amid a full-scale rebuild. This is a similar situation to the one Mills walked into in Houston. Ridder started four seasons at Cincinnati, topping it off by helping the Bearcats become the first Group of Five team invited to the College Football Playoff. Marcus Mariota resides as Atlanta’s stopgap starter, and while Ridder’s No. 74 overall draft slot does not mandate a lengthy look as the team’s long-term arm, Mariota has not made it past October as a starter since 2018.

The former Arthur Smith Titans pupil would stand to buy Ridder time in a low-expectations season post-Matt Ryan, but Ridder has a clear path to an extended look — if he proves worthy in the coming months.

Willis’ tumble doubled as one of the modern draft’s most notable freefalls. Linked to teams in the top half of the first round, the Liberty prospect fell to No. 86, when the Titans traded up for him. Of the top QBs taken this year, Willis seemingly has the best chance for a full-on redshirt. Ryan Tannehill has not seen his job threatened since taking over for Mariota midway through the 2019 slate, though the Titans have featured one of the lowest-profile QB2 situations since Mariota left for Las Vegas.

Willis’ all-around skillset, which allowed the Auburn transfer to nearly put up a 3,000-1,000 season during a year in which he accounted for 40 touchdowns, will make things interesting for Tennessee — if the Titans struggle after losing a few key offensive starters.

Perhaps the biggest wild card here, Corral resides on a Panthers team that spent the past two offseasons trying to made a big quarterback splash. Sam Darnold still represents Carolina’s projected Week 1 starter, unless the team finally decides to acquire Baker Mayfield. The Panthers have balked at trading for the disgruntled Browns QB for several weeks, due to his $18.9MM fully guaranteed contract. Darnold and Corral’s performance this offseason may well determine if Mayfield ends up a Panther, with Matt Rhule on the hot seat and Darnold showing little — albeit behind a bad offensive line — in 2021. Corral finished last season with a 20-to-5 TD-to-INT ratio, adding 11 rushing scores, and led Ole Miss to its first major bowl game in six years.

Which quarterback will make the most starts for his team this season? Vote in PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section.

NFC Rumors: Cowboys, Falcons, Saints, Trask

Going into the 2022 offseason, the Cowboys knew that they needed to bolster their defensive line. Early reports rumored that Dallas had interest in adding a former rival in Jason Pierre-Paul, who spent eight years as a Giant before going to Tampa Bay.

ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported that the Cowboys’ interest in Pierre-Paul seems to be waning, as Dallas believes they have “at least six capable edge rushers.” In the offseason, they added Dante Fowler through free agency and drafted Sam Williams out of Ole Miss last month. They’ll find themselves in the pass rushing rotation with the likes of Dorance Armstrong, Tarell Basham, DeMarcus Lawrence, and Chauncey Golston.

Here are a few other rumors from around the NFC, starting with a few more rumors from Jeremy Fowler’s article:

  • Atlanta selected Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ridder in the third round, over every quarterback in the Draft, besides Kenny Pickett who was the only passer off the board at that point. Fowler reports that Ridder’s biggest competition for the pick was Liberty’s Malik Willis, but the Falcons felt that Willis lacked the signature moments at Liberty, even though he had incredible talent. Ridder, on the other hand, had a more complete body of work, in their opinion. It didn’t hurt that Ridder reportedly came to interviews with a plan on how to unseat a veteran starting quarterback wherever he landed.
  • Another team that was long rumored to be looking at quarterbacks in the Draft, New Orleans instead drafted wide receiver Chris Olave with their first round pick. According to Fowler, the Saints had no plans to draft a quarterback. They had Olave in their sights and, upon seeing Drake London and Garrett Wilson come off the board at Nos. 8 and 10 overall, they knew they needed to make a move to ensure Olave would be available. New Orleans apparently did an outstanding job of keeping their plans a complete mystery to the rest of the NFL.
  • With Tom Brady coming out of retirement to quarterback the Buccaneers, Tampa Bay has been evaluating their backup quarterback position. According to Greg Auman of The Athletic, Buccaneers quarterbacks coach Clyde Christensen doesn’t see Kyle Trask competing with Blaine Gabbert for the backup job. This shouldn’t put Trask’s roster spot in jeopardy, though. Gabbert is one of the better backup quarterbacks in the league, but the plan for Trask was always for a post-Brady team. Tampa Bay is happy with Trask’s progress so far and will likely keep developing the 24-year-old for the future.

Falcons Draft Desmond Ridder At No. 74

The long wait for the second quarterback to be taken off the board is finally over as the Falcons selected Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ridder in the third round with the No. 74 overall pick of the 2022 NFL Draft. 

Ridder has produced every season as a four-year starter saving his best year for last. While he reduced his running a bit this past year, he’s shown his abilities in past seasons racking up 650 yards in 2019 and 12 rushing touchdowns in 2020. Perhaps most importantly, Ridder knows how to win, achieving a 44-7 record in four years as a Bearcat.

Ridder comes to a Falcons team that is looking forward to the next era at quarterback. After 13 years with Matt Ryan at the helm, the only players awaiting Ridder’s competition in the quarterbacks room in Atlanta are Marcus Mariota and Feleipe Franks.

Despite not being picked until the third round, Ridder has a very real chance to win the starting job behind center for the Falcons. With weapons like Kyle Pitts and newly drafted Drake London at his disposal, Ridder could see some early rookie fireworks lead to a long-term starting gig.

Draft Notes: Remaining QBs, Jets, Vikings, Burks, Johnson

One of the main storylines from last night’s first round was the fact that only one quarterback came off the board. The Steelers have their preferred choice in Kenny Pickett, but the other top options likely won’t have to wait long to hear their names called.

Jeff Howe of the Athletic reports (via Twitter) that “several teams” are trying to move up in the second round. As a result, there is “anticipation that a QB run could be on the way”. A number of teams could be interested in adding the likes of Malik Willis, Sam Howell, Desmond Ridder and Matt Corral as intriguing developmental options.

On that point, Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer names the Titans, Falcons, Seahawks and Commanders as teams to watch for. He reports that “Ridder’s name has been consistently connected to Tennessee”, who now holds the 35th overall pick. The other teams have done significant work on signal-callers as well. Perhaps eyeing a passer, the Seahawks have made “exploratory calls” about moving up tonight, per CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson (Twitter link).

Here are some other notes looking back on last night:

  • The Jets, as it has been reported, were willing to part with the No. 10 pick for Deebo Samuel. They almost made a different deal with that selection, though, as detailed by ESPN’s Rich Cimini (on Twitter). New York wanted to swap with Seattle for No. 9 to avoid a team leapfrogging them to select Garrett Wilson. Both teams were able to successfully stand pat, ultimately getting Charles Cross and Wilson, respectively.
  • Not long after the top-10 was complete, the Vikings ceded the 12th overall pick to the Lions. With their second first-rounder, Detroit selected Jameson Williams, who may have been the pick at that spot had Minnesota kept it. Breer reports that the Alabama receiver “was very much in play ” for the Vikings, who added Lewis Cine and two Day 2 picks as a result of the deal.
  • Another of the top receivers to be taken last night was Treylon Burks, whom the Titans selected as a replacement for A.J. BrownWhen speaking to Pat McAfee, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport said the Arkansas alum “was the guy Aaron Rodgers wanted” (video link). With him off the board, the Packers extended their streak of not using a Round 1 pick on a wideout, but he reports that they are a candidate to trade up for one tonight (video link).
  • One of the most surprising fallers on Thursday night was pass rusher Jermaine Johnson II. Part of the reason he was still on the board for the Jets at No. 25, Breer notes, was poor interviews with teams in the pre-draft process. Thought by some as a top-10 pick, he ended up with the Jets anyway, and figures to serve as a notable boost to their pass rush.

Teams Targeting Late First-Round QB Trade-Ups?

It is widely known by this point that the 2022 quarterback class is not held in the same regard as the average one. That has made it difficult to pin down the likely landing spots for the top prospects at the position, as well as the number of teams willing to spend a first-round pick on one of them. It would appear as though the back end of Day 1 could become the source of some QB-related trades, however. 

[RELATED: Interest In First-Round QBs Cooling?]

NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reports that while Malik Willis and Kenny Pickett are the top options, the possibility exists for the next tier of passers to start being taken late in the opening round (video link). That group – which consists of Sam HowellDesmond Ridder and Matt Corrall – could be the target of teams trading up from early in the second round.

As Pelissero notes, there are a number of teams near the top of the second round which could select a signal-caller. That list includes the Seahawks and Falcons; if they decline to draft the likes of Willis or Pickett in the top-10, they could try to move into the late 20s to land one of the three other passers in the (seemingly likely) event they are still available.

One team to consider in that scenario is the Lions. While they are expected to target the top remaining edge rusher with the No. 2 pick, the team also owns No. 32. It is with that final Day 1 selection, CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora reports, that Detroit “is more likely [to] snag a QB… or move up a bit from there to do so”. Competition between the Lions and a number of other interested teams could create the circumstances needed for there to be “a run on some of those other quarterbacks”, as Pelissero details.

The pre-draft process has seen a number of opinions come out regarding this QB class and the value of developmental signal-callers versus more surefire prospects at other positions. Much will depend, of course, on how high Willis and Pickett go, but those two may not be the only passers to hear their names called on Day 1.

Steelers, Saints Likely To Take QB In First Round?

As those who even casually follow the NFL predraft process know by now, this year’s collegiate class includes an intriguing but flawed set of quarterbacks, which has led to seemingly unprecedented variance in how executives throughout the league are evaluating the prospects who play the most important position in sports.

ESPN draftnik Todd McShay said, “[w]hat’s wild about this year’s class — more so than any previous year that I can remember — is the difference of opinions when I get off the phone with one guy in the league versus the next guy. And I’m not just talking about scouts, I’m talking general managers, guys who are making the decisions” (via Mike Triplett of

Per McShay, one club has Ole Miss’ Matt Corral ranked as the top passer in the class, while several teams have Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder at the top of their respective draft boards. Liberty’s Malik Willis has frequently been mentioned as the QB with the highest ceiling, and while McShay suggests some teams prefer Willis to his draftmates, other clubs have Willis as the fourth-best signal-caller. Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett, meanwhile, is generally viewed as either the best or second-best quarterback.

As one might expect in light of these differences in QB evaluations, there have been plenty of conflicting reports regarding how many passers might actually be selected in the first round. On Friday, Matt Miller of reported that it would not be a surprise to see Pickett as the only QB picked on Day 1, but Tony Pauline of Pro Football Network wrote on Saturday that the Saints and Steelers look like “sure bets” to nab a first-round quarterback, and that at least three QBs will hear their name called among the first 32 picks.

The Saints now have two first-round choices (Nos. 16 and 19 overall) by virtue of their trade with the Eagles earlier this month. McShay and others have opined that New Orleans did not make that move with the goal of selecting a quarterback, but it certainly puts the club in good position to do exactly that. Indeed, one thing that all evaluators do seem to agree on is that this year’s highest-profile QBs are not top-10 prospects, and are actually mid- to late-first-round talents. As such, even if the Saints do not want to package their two first-rounders in an effort to move into the top-10 and assure themselves of the opportunity to nab their preferred passer, they theoretically could still have their pick of the litter just by staying put (though the premium that teams place on the quarterback position suggests that such a strategy would be a risky one if New Orleans really does want to come away from the draft with its highest-rated quarterback in tow).

The Saints took top-30 visits with Corral, Pickett, Willis, and UNC passer Sam Howell, and that same quartet also met with the Steelers. Pittsburgh has heavily scouted this year’s quarterbacks and is said to prefer Pickett, though’s Jordan Reid (in the same Triplett piece linked above) reports that the Steelers are high on Ridder — with whom they also visited — and could be poised to pounce on the former Bearcat if he falls past the Saints.

Pauline writes that both Ridder and Corral are building first-round momentum, and he also hears that the Seahawks — who presently hold the No. 9 overall selection — could try to move into the back end of the first round to pick up a passer to groom behind Drew Lock. Earlier reports maintained that Seattle could use its top-10 choice on a QB, but Pauline’s piece implies that the club has other ideas for that pick. Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times reiterates that the ‘Hawks truly think Lock can be a legitimate NFL starter, which suggests that if team brass is targeting a quarterback in the draft, such a player would be acquired with the No. 40 or No. 41 pick or by packaging one or both of those picks to trade up 10 spots or so.

Interest In First-Round QBs Cooling?

With less than one week to go until this year’s draft, there are still plenty of questions regarding the top pick, as well as the quarterback class. The long-held belief has been that Malik Willis and Kenny Pickett are locks to go in the first round, but sentiment seems to be growing that the top signal-callers may have to wait longer than expected to hear their names called. 

As noted by ESPN’s Matt Miller, “the momentum that swung [Pickett and Willis] up the board seems to be swinging back the other way”. He adds that Pickett (who has long been connected to the Steelers) is, in the eyes of some, the only surefire first-round prospect. His highly productive fifth season at Pittsburgh earned him Heisman trophy consideration, and has generally made him the prospect seen as most NFL-ready.

For the others, Miller notes, interest has “quieted down” considerably. He posits that Pickett being the only Day 1 signal-caller wouldn’t come as a surprise. Willis in particular has been involved in speculation surrounding QB-needy teams, including the Panthers, holders of the sixth-overall pick. Miller himself reported recently that Desmond Ridder could also find himself in the top-20.

With respect to the Steelers, Miller states that the team appears to prefer Pickett far more than any other prospect at the position. Pittsburgh devoted a great deal of time to scouting the top QB options, so such a stance would be rather telling. If Pickett isn’t available at No. 20, Miller reports, offensive tackle would become a position of interest.

While the overall view of the class seems to fading, Miller’s colleague Jordan Reid notes that the No. 32 pick (currently owned by the Lions) could be the target of a trade-up to land a passer. He details that Sam Howell is the name “to keep an eye on”; a team looking to secure a fifth-year option on his rookie contract could move up to the end of the first round, thus adding to the total number of QBs taken there.

Overall, the waters appear to be as muddied as ever as they pertain to this year’s prospects at the game’s most important position.

Colts Meet With QB Desmond Ridder

The Colts acquired Matt Ryan and have said they plan to use him as their starter for at least the next two seasons, the duration of Ryan’s contract, but they continue to meet with top draft-eligible quarterbacks.

In addition to the Colts’ Malik Willis visit, they traveled to Cincinnati to meet with Desmond Ridder, Albert Breer of tweets. Ridder and various Bearcats receivers worked out for Colts brass Friday.

Indianapolis does not have a first-round pick this year, but the team does hold second- and third-round selections. The Colts’ second-round pick sits 42nd, five spots up thanks to the pick swap included in the Carson Wentz trade with the Commanders. That would put the Colts in play for a passer. Although the team has other needs and would make sense to be in play for a quarterback in 2023 or beyond, given the Ryan trade, Chris Ballard‘s staff is looking into this year’s QB group.

Mirroring the other quarterbacks in this much-maligned class, Ridder’s draft range varies. ESPN slots him as its No. 36 overall prospect;’s Daniel Jeremiah does not rank the 6-foot-3 signal-caller inside his top 50. Mel Kiper Jr.’s latest mock draft has Ridder going 40th overall to the Seahawks. The Steelers, Seahawks and Panthers have met with Ridder.

Barring an offseason injury, Ryan will be the Colts’ sixth Week 1 QB starter in six years. Ryan’s post-trade cap number checks in at just $18.7MM, though his 2023 figure spikes to $35.2MM. Ballard said he will inform Ryan when the team plans to draft a quarterback highly. While the Colts diving into the first-round QB market in a later draft would be the more conventional path, is not out of the question that Ballard-Ryan conversation occurs this year.

Latest On Panthers QB Plans

While the NFL’s quarterback carousel is just about complete, we still don’t have clarity on the Panthers’ QB position. Heading into the offseason, GM Scott Fitterer admitted that the quarterback job was “open,” but after losing out in the Deshaun Watson sweepstakes, Fitterer walked back his remarks and stated that incumbent Sam Darnold was in the lead for the starting nod. Now, with the NFL Draft coming up at the end of the month, the organization still isn’t ruling out selecting a QB with the No. 6 pick.

[RELATED: Panthers Considering Trades For No. 6 Pick]

According to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, the “consensus of the people in this league” is that the Panthers will ultimately select a QB in the upcoming draft, with Malik Willis and Kenny Pickett considered the favorites. While Albert Breer of agrees with the QB sentiment, he hasn’t heard as much buzz about Pickett, and “with jobs on the line this year,” the organization may play it safe by taking the most NFL-ready option. Besides Willis, Breer also points to Matt Corral and Desmond Ridder as options. Sam Howell and Bailey Zappe were also included in the team’s 30 allotted prospect visits.

We learned recently that a trade down is a real possibility, and that could ultimately open the door to the Panthers selecting a quarterback with their first-round pick. The popular sentiment has been that No. 6 is too early to select from this year’s crop of quarterbacks. However, a trade for a mid-first would be “more palatable” for the front office.

While the Panthers could look to a first-round QB, Darnold still believes he’s ready to compete for the starting gig. Following an inconsistent start to his career with the Jets, Darnold underwhelmed during his first season with the Panthers, guiding the team to a 4-7 record while tossing nine touchdowns vs. 13 interceptions.

“It’s truly whatever happens happens, because at the end of the day it’s out of my control, and I know that,” Darnold,said during a recent podcast appearance (via ESPN’s David Newton). “I have enough security in myself where I can say, ‘I know I’m a good quarterback. I know I can be a good quarterback in this league. I’ve proved it.’

“And I know there’s a team, if something happens, that would want me.”

Meanwhile, following whispers that the Panthers could be the most likely landing spot for Browns QB Baker Mayfield, Panthers receiver Robby Anderson made it pretty clear what his feelings were on the rumors. On Instagram, Anderson commented “Nooooo” under a picture connecting Mayfield to Carolina (h/t Brad Stainbrook of CBS Sports on Twitter).

Seahawks Hosting QB Desmond Ridder

Widely believed to be one of the few teams with at least some question marks surrounding their immediate quarterback future, the Seahawks are hosting their first draft prospect at the position. NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reports (on Twitter) that Seattle is meeting with former Cincinnati QB Desmond Ridder.

It came out earlier this week that Ridder would be visiting the Seahawks as part of a busy schedule in that regard. He has already met with the Steelers and Panthers, two teams which have made their desire for a new signal-caller well known. He is the only QB prospect, Pelissero notes though, who is known to have sat down with Seattle.

The Seahawks have Drew Lock as their starter at present, after acquiring him in the Russell Wilson trade. While head coach Pete Carroll has publicly backed the former second-rounder, he has also made clear the team’s desire to bring back veteran backup Geno Smith.

Ridder is coming off an historic four-year career with the Bearcats. He complied a 44-6 record, leading the program to the College Football Playoff for the first time in its history. His production and contribution to the team’s success has ranked him amongst the top passers in this year’s draft class. While the ninth overall pick (which the team added during the Wilson trade) is seen as too rich for Ridder, their next selection at No. 40 would likely represent solid value if he were to remain on the board that long.

Much of Ridder’s ultimate destination will be determined, of course, by the urgency with which teams select the likes of Malik Willis, Kenny Pickett and Sam Howell. If the Seahawks have the opportunity to select him, they will have done their due diligence in the build-up to this month’s draft.