Desmond Ridder has tools to be taken as the third QB

First of an 11 part series. Coming tomorrow: running backs.

Desmond Ridder is hard to beat even in made-up games.

For 20 minutes in the middle of every Thursday practice while the rest of the Cincinnati soccer team was practicing special teams, Gino Guidugli kept the quarterbacks sharp by playing “skip catch.” The objective of this two-on-two game of his invention is to skim a throw from the top of a raised net: one point if your partner catches the ball, minus one point if the throw doesn’t cross the net because it a is warning sign your elbow is too low.

“If you’re playing PlayStation, if you’re playing checkers, if you’re playing sand volleyball, you’re going to go with Desmond first,” Guidugli, Cincinnati quarterbacks coach and passing play coordinator during Ridder’s career, told The Post. “He’s going to go on a 10-game win streak on ‘Skip Catch’ this season, regardless of who his partner is. It’s just a small game, but he takes it seriously. He won’t lose.”

The same goes for Ridder’s approach to football games.

Ridder went 44-6 – the third most wins in FBS history behind Kellen Moore and Colt McCoy – including 26-0 at home as a four-year-old starter. The combination of athletics and intangibles could see Ridder become the third quarterback selected in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft.

NFL draft
Desmond Rider

“He might be because some people love his lead, his win and his competitiveness,” a scouting source said.

Ridder and Guidugli rank No. 1 and No. 2 in most career passing categories in Cincinnati, in one order or another. After the 2020 season, when Ridder was considering entering the draft, his coach gave him an honest assessment three areas that need improvement: completion percentage, accuracy on passes deeper than 20 yards, and showing more anticipation.

“He came back and did all those things better,” said Guidugli, who says criticism of Ridder’s ball placement is “eye-catching” because of the constant improvement. “I think there is still room for growth at the next level. You get a franchise quarterback and everything you want from a first-round quarterback: great in the locker room, great in the community, the ultimate competitor and a winner.”

In an imperfect quarterback class, the 6-foot-3, 207-pound Ridder offers prototypical size and coveted experience. If the Falcons, Commanders Seahawks, Saints or Steelers are missing out on those traits because the Panthers grabbed Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett, they could switch to Ridder instead of relying on the projection needed with Liberty’s Malik Willis and other top options. These five needy teams each pick twice after the Panthers at No. 6 and with pick No. 52.

“The reason he’s risen in some people’s minds is because he’s the only other guy with all the physical ability,” former NFL general manager Randy Mueller told The Post. “His management of offense is good, but the closer he has to deal with pressure, that strength wanes. He misses too many easy shots. I have more polished quarterbacks [ranked] before him but he was better than 2020 so you see the glass half full.”

NFL draft
Desmond Ridder throws during his pro day.

Despite 50 career starts, Mueller says Ridder’s best path is to sit as a rookie, like recent first-rounders Trey Lance and Patrick Mahomes. Ridder totaled 87 passing touchdowns and 12,148 total rushing yards, including 2,179 yards (and 28 touchdowns) in rushing.

“He has a knack for knowing the timing of when to run and when to just move and buy a second for the receiver to clear,” Guidugli said. “Early on in his career he would read first, then read and take off. He grew into the guy who says, ‘Hey, I can do this with my arm.’ ”

ESPN quarterback analyst Dan Orlovsky called Ridder’s game against Indiana last season “the best quarterback tape” in the class of 2022, comparing him to three-time Pro Bowler Alex Smith (No. 1 overall winner in 2005) for his pre -Snap up post-snap snap operation of an offense.

“Because of his preparation, he had the keys to the car,” said Guidugli. “He wanted to identify them [middle linebacker], he would identify the front, he would set and adjust the protection. He had the option to audit run-to-run, run-to-run, or change the RPOs. He was given a lot of freedom on our offensive. This is deserved.”

Winnings are Ridder’s preferred currency. Desmond Ridder has tools to be taken as the third QB


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