Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ridder might just be the highest rising prospect in the 2022 NFL Draft in recent weeks. Since it’s no secret the Pittsburgh Steelers are in the market for another signal caller, he’s been a popular pick at No. 20 as of late. And NFL Media Analyst Charles Davis believes that will be the selection in his latest mock draft released on Monday morning.
“Surprise! The Steelers have done their homework on this year’s class, and opt for the high ceiling on this rising signal-caller. Yes, Kenny Pickett makes a ton of sense, but Ridder’s overall athleticism really meshes with what OC Matt Canada wants to do on offense.”
Davis is correct about a few things. The Steelers have done plenty in their evaluation of this year’s quarterback class, and it is very possible the Steelers are dead set on choosing what they hope to be Ben Roethlisberger’s successor. Earlier in his mock, he has the Carolina Panthers taking Malik Willis at No. 6 overall and has Ridder as the second quarterback off the board. If that were the case and the Steelers do have a choice between Pickett, Ridder, and the rest of the class, it would be tough to determine who has the edge. Many draft analysts tout Pickett as the most pro-ready and Ridder as having the best mind when it comes to processing and reading a defense, but Davis is right in that both make a lot of sense in the offense Canada wants to run.
Later in the draft, Davis has the Detroit Lions choosing Pickett at No. 32 overall. That pick could have a lot to do with the fifth-year option of control a team gets with first-round selections. That may also influence the Steelers in their decision making process when drafting a quarterback to let him sit on the bench behind Mitch Trubisky for a season. With quarterback contracts skyrocketing this offseason, if the Steelers do find a franchise player, that extra year of cheap quarterback play would be significant to filling out the offense around him.
Ridder threw for 3,334 yards in 2021, completing 64.9% of his passes, while throwing 30 touchdowns to eight interceptions. And while he wasn’t the Heisman Trophy finalist Pickett was, Ridder did lead his team to a College Football Playoff appearance. The maturity is one attribute that pops out when looking at Ridder as a prospect. It’s something that the Steelers may covet heavily when looking at who could best lead a young, developing offense. NFL.com has given Ridder a 6.36 grade and projects him as a player who will eventually be a plus starter. And you can check out our report here.