There has been a lot of focus on the top quarterbacks in the 2022 NFL Draft class when it concerns coverage of the Pittsburgh Steelers, for obvious reasons. They are one of the teams with the clearest need at the position following the retirement of Ben Roethlisberger after 19 seasons.
Their extensive work in researching the position in this draft class has been well-documented, culminating in pre-draft visits to their facility over the past week or two. Desmond Ridder was among those who came in for a visit, and whom they saw at his Pro Day, as well as at the Combine. Given that attention, it might be worth knowing a bit more about him.
Ridder was recently on the Adam Schein Podcast, and when he was asked if he felt his game was similar to anybody in the league now, he actually offered a list of names. “I kind of put it in a mixture of a couple, like Marcus Mariota, Ryan Tannehill, and a little bit of Deshaun Watson”, he said. “I think those three guys combined, I feel like, are kind of a mixture of my game”.
Both Mariota and Tannehill were first-round draft picks who failed with their original teams. Tannehill has gone on to have a successful career with the Titans, however, while Mariota also appears to have a shot to try to prove himself again. Watson is a three-time Pro Bowler.
Ridder was then asked about why he believes he has a knack for stepping up in big moments. “I was born for those moments, so that’s where I shine”, he said. “It’s just the competitive spirit in me, just always wanting to go out and beat the person across from me, no matter who it is, and just knowing that if you go out there on the field, you tell yourself you’re the best player on the field, then no one can stop you”.
Ridder was a four-year starter for the Cincinnati Bearcats. He completed 810 of 1,304 passes in his college career for 10,239 yards with 87 touchdowns to 28 interceptions. He topped 3,000 yards for the first time last season, with 30 touchdowns and eight interceptions, his team going 13-1. They lost, 27-6, to Alabama in the Cotton Bowl. Ridder went 17-for-32 in the game for 144 yards with neither a touchdown nor interception.
But what does he believe is his ‘it’ factor, if he has one?
“One would be my athletic ability, but then, just my ability to lead and be around others and make everyone else better”, he said. “To be able to bring a team, an organization together, to do something great. I feel like that’s what I really pride myself in, once I get into an organization, a team, to be able to implement myself in within the brotherhood, within the culture of the team, to be great”.
One can have all the leadership skills in the world, however, and it ultimately won’t make them a better passer than they are. Ridder, like every other quarterback prospect, will first and foremost live and die by what he is able to deliver on the field. Do the Steelers feel it’s worth a first-round pick to find out the answer?