Unfortunately for new Atlanta Falcons quarterback Marcus Mariota, a sizable portion of the fanbase is already extremely eager to see third-round pick Desmond Ridder take the field later this year.
Feel free to count Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot among those excited to see what Ridder could do for the two-time NFC champions.
In a recent appearance on Mike Florio’s PFT PM podcast, Fontenot explained the Falcons’ decision to select Ridder 74th overall in last week’s draft. The second-year general manager praised Ridder, who will turn 23 in August, as “selfless” and “humble.” But, above all, the two-time All-AAC Offensive Player of the Year was the top-ranked prospect left on the Falcons’ draft board at that time.
“He does have a chip on his shoulder, he always has felt like he has something to prove, and he’s one of those guys that whether he goes in the first round or the seventh round, he’s going to be that type of worker that brings it every day. We’re excited to take Desmond at that time, excited about the time we spent with him, and we’re excited to get him here so we can go to work.”Terry Fontenot
Ridder, who had not yet signed his rookie contract as of publication, is expected to open his rookie season sitting behind Mariota. Atlanta signed the 2014 Heisman Trophy winner, who spent the last two seasons backing up Derek Carr on the Las Vegas Raiders, shortly after trading Matt Ryan to the Indianapolis Colts earlier this offseason.
Florio directly asked Fontenot about the quarterback depth chart and where Ridder fits into the equation.
“I would say at any position on our depth chart; it’s all the same that right now we’re going to have going into camp we’re going to have 90 players all competing to be the 53 plus 16,” Fontenot replied.
At this stage, the Falcons sound open to letting Ridder play if he’s the superior option, and that’s the smart option. If the Falcons are terrible next season, they’ll have an opportunity to either select a young quarterback — Alabama’s Bryce Young, anyone? — or potentially add Alabama pass-rusher Will Anderson to the mix.
Why not, then, give Ridder a chance to show what he could do? The Falcons selected Southern California receiver Drake London eighth overall, and he’d likely provide more return on investment if Ridder throws his way. Mariota’s passing skills are, shall we say, lacking for a backup quarterback.
We won’t go so far as to suggest the Falcons are a playoff team with Ridder at the helm. However, let’s also not pretend Mariota is anything more than a stopgap option — and a mediocre one at that.
Personally, I have Ridder Rage (patent pending), and I expect Falcons fans to join me in the coming months. If Fontenot isn’t already there, it certainly sounds like he’s getting close.