The Pittsburgh Steelers could be looking into taking a quarterback in the first round of the 2022 NFL draft.
As reported by Ray Fittipaldo of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, University of Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ridder visited the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on Thursday, April 7.
“Desmond Ridder, who led the Cincinnati Bearcats to the College Football Playoff last year, is at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on Thursday for a top-30 prospect visit,” said Fittipaldo. “The other top quarterbacks in the draft are scheduled to follow in the coming days and weeks.”
Ian Rapoport of NFL Network had initially reported Ridder would pay a visit to the Steelers, with University of North Carolina QB Sam Howell following on Friday.
Ridder is Easily Fastest QB of 2022 Draft Prospects
This isn’t the first time the athletic Ridder has met with the Steelers. The 22-year-old quarterback also had meetings with the Steelers at the Senior Bowl and the NFL scouting combine, as Fittipaldo notes. That’s in addition to Ridder meeting with head coach Mike Tomlin before Cincinnati’s pro day in March.
Ridder is considered one of the top quarterbacks in the 2022 NFL draft class. However, he’s not expected to be selected until late in the first round or early in the second round. That would be a perfect fit for the Steelers considering they don’t pick until No. 20 in the first round.
The two-time reigning AAC Player of the Year is known for his dazzling speed. The 6-foot-3, 211-pound quarterback ran a 4.52 time in the 40-yard-dash. Ridder’s 40-yard-dash was not only tops among all quarterback prospects, it was easily the highest of any of the other QB’s projected to be drafted in the first. The University of Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett lagged far behind with a 4.73 40-yard-dash.
None of the other top QB prospects — Howell, Malik Willis and Matt Corral — ranked in the top eight among players at their position in the 40-yard-dash.
Ridder made a name for himself after leading the Bearcats to a College Football Playoff appearance during the 2021 season. Cincinnati became the first Non-Power 5 team to make the College Football Playoff.
ESPN’s Todd McShay has Ridder drafted with the No. 32 pick by the Detroit Lions in his latest mock draft. As McShay notes, Ridder’s athleticism is a strong suit. However, his lack of accuracy is a concern.
“Ridder isn’t a sure thing, and he has too many ball-location misses, but his strong arm, good mobility and high-end ability to read the field make him an intriguing pick to cap off Day 1,” McShay wrote on April 5.
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Trubisky Isn’t a Lock to Start for Steelers
While the Steelers did sign Mitch Trubisky with the likely intention of him being the starting QB entering the season, it doesn’t mean a rookie can’t unseat him.
Trubisky hasn’t started a game since the 2020 season and he didn’t exactly light it up during his tenure with the Chicago Bears. The former No. 2 overall draft pick washed out of Chicago after four mediocre seasons. According to Pro Football Focus, Trubisky’s highest offensive grade was 66.4, which he posted during his rookie season in 2017. That number ranked near the bottom of the league among all qualifying quarterbacks at 28th.
That could leave the door open for a rookie such as Ridder to win the starting job. In fact, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, that what’s Ridder is planning to do in his rookie season.
“Desmond Ridder is a name that’s buzzing in league circles,” Fowler said on April 5. “During team interviews, the QB made clear he plans to beat out a veteran in camp.”
Considering the Steelers are seeking their first franchise QB in the post-Ben Roethlisberger era, Ridder could very well emerge as that guy.