The last week or so has been quite an interesting one for the Pittsburgh Steelers when it comes to speculation regarding who will be the next quarterback under center post-Ben Roethlisberger.
With names like Aaron Rodgers (back to Green Bay), Russell Wilson (traded to Broncos), and Carson Wentz (traded to Commanders) off the board, the speculation has shifted to guys like Deshaun Watson, Jimmy Garoppolo, Derek Carr, and even Jacoby Brissett who, if we’re being honest, is the frontrunner of that group to be a Steeler.
It seems everyone is forgetting the best and easiest path for the Steelers to get a quarterback they like though without giving away far too much in future assets. That path? The 2022 NFL Draft.
CBS Sports’ Tom Fornelli didn’t seem to forget that Friday, as the longtime college football analyst paired the Steelers with an intriguing young quarterback in the first round of his latest mock draft.
That quarterback is one Desmond Ridder out of Cincinnati, one that is generating quite a bit of buzz after an impressive Combine performance.
Desmond Ridder is a QB prospect in the 2022 draft class. He scored an unofficial 9.54 RAS at the Combine out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 39 out of 831 QB from 1987 to 2022. (agilities added) https://t.co/xc4lrLdwbW #RAS via @Mathbomb pic.twitter.com/RbReygRNss
— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) March 4, 2022
“I’m convinced the Steelers will take a QB at this spot if they don’t trade up to grab one even earlier, and Ridder improved his stock in Indianapolis,” Fornelli writes regarding the Steelers selection in his latest mock draft. “He doesn’t have the greatest arm strength for pushing the ball down the field, and that could trigger bad memories for Steelers fans who had to spend last season watching Big Ben dink and dunk, but there’s plenty to like. I love his consistency in keeping his eyes down the field and looking for the pass instead of taking off at the first sign of trouble.”
Cincinnati QB Desmond Ridder will appeal to NFL teams that value the following:
* winners/culture-changers who’ve proven they can elevate a program
* consistently improved 🎥
* dual-threats who will likely run 4.4’s at Combine
* easy passers who make NFL throws like this 👇 pic.twitter.com/nb2LPt6k5l
— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) February 23, 2022
In Fornelli’s mock, Ridder is the second quarterback off the board behind Liberty’s Malik Willis, who he has going to the Seattle Seahawks at No. 7 after a trade up with the New York Giants from No. 9. Aside from Ridder, Fornelli has Nevada’s Carson Strong coming off the board at No. 27 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Kenny Pickett off the board at No. 32 overall to the Detroit Lions, making for quite an interesting first round for quarterbacks.
As for Ridder and the Steelers, it makes a ton of sense. For my money, he’s the most pro-ready quarterback in the 2022 NFL Draft class, even ahead of Pickett, and would provide the Steelers with great leadership and athleticism at the position, especially mobility, which GM Kevin Colbert and head coach Mike Tomlin have talked about quite a bit this offseason.
Here’s what Jonathan Heitritter had to say about Ridder in our draft profile:
“Overall, there is a lot to like from the physical perspective of Ridder’s game. He has the mobility inside and outside of the pocket, the dual-threat capability with his legs, and the arm talent to challenge defenses from a variety of different facets of the game. He also has a good head on his shoulders from a character standpoint and has shown a willingness and dedication to improve as a passer from when he first arrived on campus.”
He’s certainly a name to keep in mind moving forward.