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Q&A With Desmond Ridder: Cincinnati Legacy, Balancing Fatherhood And Football, Why He Believes He's QB1

Desmond Ridder of Cincinnati.

CINCINNATI, OHIO - NOVEMBER 20: Desmond Ridder #9 of the Cincinnati Bearcats drops back to pass in the first quarter against the SMU Mustangs at Nippert Stadium on November 20, 2021 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

Desmond Ridder enters the 2022 NFL Draft as one of the most accomplished prospects available. He was a four-year starter who finished his college career as a two-time AAC Offensive Player of the Year.

Ridder struggled with accuracy during his first two seasons with the Bearcats, completing 58.6 percent of his passes. That number drastically improved in 2020 and 2021, as Ridder completed 65.5 percent of his pass attempts during his final two years of college football.

Overall, there's a lot to like about Ridder's game. He has excellent mechanics, can make plays outside of the pocket, and is considered a Day 1 leader.

During the pre-draft process, Ridder competed at the NFL Combine and Senior Bowl. Scouts left those events with a strong impression of Ridder, who passed every test with relative ease.

We caught up with Desmond Ridder to discuss his legacy at Cincinnati, why he should be the first quarterback selected in the 2022 NFL Draft and more.

The Spun: You had the chance to showcase your skills at Cincinnati’s pro day, the NFL Combine and Senior Bowl. Do you feel like you left no doubt about your game?

Desmond Ridder: For sure, especially over the past three months. I’ve been able to build upon every event that has happened over the past three months. Being able to improve each month during this process has been my goal. At the Senior Bowl, I wanted to improve each day during practice. Then, I wanted to put on a performance during the game. At the NFL Combine, I wanted to interview well, test well and throw well. Then, I just wanted to leave it all on the line at my pro day. I just really wanted to leave no doubt during the interviews and workouts.

The Spun: Your time in the 40-yard dash went viral because it was compared to Patrick Mahomes’. Did you have a chance to see that viral video?

DR: They showed it to me right after the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. I told them, "You didn’t have to do Patrick like that." It was really funny though.

The Spun: After your pro day you had a chance to conduct interviews while holding your daughter, Leighton. How have you been able to balance fatherhood with your preparation NFL Draft?

DR: With COVID and everything going on, sometimes you have to take your work life to home. I’m doing Zoom interviews from home, and being able to stay near Leighton is great. It’s not hard to balance the two tasks though. I do everything for her. She’s always on my mind when I go into work, and when I come home, she’s here physically with me. I just want to create the best future for her.

The Spun: You had an exceptional career at Cincinnati. What would you personally like to be remembered for?

DR: I think the legacy of the team is important to me. I’m not really big on individual glory. The culture we created at Cincinnati is something that you’ll look back at in 10 years from now and still talk about how great of a stretch it was. Some of the work we did off the field with the children’s hospital and Boys & Girls Club Of America was notable too. We were a great team, on and off the field.

The Spun: Your head coach, Luke Fickell, signed an extension through the 2028 season. What was one of the key takeaways from your time with him?

DR: Your mind is everything. Football is a mental game. When I go out there on the field, I have to know that I’m the best player on the field. He would tell us, "Why step on the field with the idea that someone else is better than you? That puts you at a disadvantage." You need to train your mind just as much as you train your body.

The Spun: Which parts of your game have grown the most throughout this journey?

DR: I would say my accuracy within intermediate routes and my passes downfield. Being able to do that over the past few years has boosted my game.

The Spun: Who’s your favorite quarterback to watch or study?

DR: There are a couple that I watch. I like to study Deshaun Watson, Ryan Tannehill, Marcus Mariota and Lamar Jackson. I like to see what they do well at the next level.

The Spun: I saw you mentioned Avril Lavigne’s ‘Complicated’ as one of your go-to songs. What song gets you pumped right before a game?

DR: I don’t really listen to that much music before the game, but I love ‘Never Forget’ by Future.

The Spun: Did you think your Avril Lavigne comment would go viral the way it did?

DR: Kinda.They were playing some throwbacks when I was in the waiting room, so that kinda got my vibes going. And that song is definitely on my throwback playlist. So that song kinda just got stuck in my head.

The Spun: Fill in the blank: Desmond Ridder should be the first quarterback taken off the board because

DR: I would say because he’s a winner, he’s tough, he’s a great leader, and he makes plays when plays aren’t there to be made. That’s why teams should choose me as the No. 1 quarterback. I’m going to help an organization win a Super Bowl.

At the NFL Combine, Desmond Ridder completed the 40-yard dash in 4.52 seconds. That's an impressive time for a quarterback who likes to win from the pocket.

With the NFL Draft less than a month away, Ridder continues to soar up teams' draft boards. As long as he continues to crush the interview process, he'll have a legitimate shot at being a first-round pick later this month.

You can read more of our interviews with athletes or media stars here.