Arthur Smith: Desmond Ridder is light years ahead of most young QBs from the neck up

Desmond Ridder had to wait until the third round to hear his name called as the second quarterback off the board during this year’s draft.

But Ridder may have landed in exactly the right spot as he begins his pro career.

On Wednesday, head coach Arthur Smith praised the way the young quarterback has grasped the playbook since joining the club’s offseason program, saying he’s “very intelligent.”

“He’s light years ahead of most other young quarterbacks from the neck up,” Smith said, via Charles Odum of the Associated Press. “I will give him that compliment.”

Smith added, “Clearly he’s got to continue to improve … but behind the scenes, there are things he has done that have impressed me as a rookie.”

Ridder said he started to feel comfortable with the playbook and its terminology “about last week.”

“Honestly, I’m not going to lie, I thought I was going to come in and struggle a little bit,” Ridder said. “We’re almost all the way through all our installs and putting in all those checks. I’ve got a good grasp of it. That kind of surprised me, honestly, you know? I’m not going to say I wouldn’t have picked it up, but I thought it would take me just a little bit longer, an extra couple of days. But I’ve been able to pick up on it pretty smoothly.”

Ridder gained plenty of experience in his four years at Cincinnati, helping lead the program to the College Football Playoff as a senior in 2021. Now it appears there’s a chance he could beat out Marcus Mariota in training camp to become the Falcons’ QB1.