On Friday, College Football beat writers from The Athletic took a stab at projecting the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft. Eight beat writers were apart of the mock, with Iowa writer Scott Dochterman picking for the Pittsburgh Steelers at No. 20. Dochterman has the team selecting Cincinnati QB Desmond Ridder.
“There are plenty of directions the Steelers could go with a couple of good edge rushers remaining in addition to the draft’s best center. But patience has helped Pittsburgh remain a successful enterprise for more than 50 years. The Steelers were patient in waiting to select the third-ranked quarterback in 2004 when they snagged Ben Roethlisberger. The Steelers stay put here, too, and revisit that playbook by grabbing Ridder.”
He then goes on to write that:
“Ridder is a winner, leading the Bearcats to a pair of unbeaten regular seasons and the College Football Playoff last fall. He has a strong arm and can run if necessary. Ridder finished with 10,239 passing yards, 87 touchdowns and completed 62.1 percent of his passes. He also rushed for 2,180 yards and 28 scores. His character and toughness will win over his new city.”
Ridder was the fourth quarterback off the board in this mock, behind Malik Willis, Kenny Pickett, and Matt Corral. Willis went to the Seahawks at No. 9, while Pickett landed with the Commanders at No. 11 and Corral went No. 19 to the New Orleans Saints. Ridder has seen his draft stock rise in the last few months after leading Cincinnati to the College Football Playoff and an impressive showing at the NFL Combine.
Once thought to be more of a Day 2 selection, it would be rather surprising if Ridder doesn’t hear his name called on Thursday night. Pittsburgh is a popular landing spot for him in mocks, as Mike Tomlin took he and his Cincinnati teammates out to dinner, and the Steelers sent a host of coaches and executives, including Tomlin, Colbert, Brandon Hunt, and Omar Khan to Cincinnati’s Pro Day.
Ridder’s leadership quality is a trait that would serve him well in Pittsburgh, but his arm strength and athletic ability are equally impressive. Ridder could be a prime candidate to sit behind Mitch Trubisky for a year to work on his mechanics and accuracy issues before taking over the reins as Pittsburgh’s starter in 2023. His mobility would seem to be a fit in Matt Canada’s offense, and if the Steelers do take a quarterback in the first round, it would not be a surprise at all if it was Ridder.