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Report: Why Falcons Took Desmond Ridder Over Malik Willis

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)

Heading into this year's 2022 NFL Draft, many analysts had Liberty quarterback Malik Willis coming off the board as the No. 1 QB prospect.

But when it came time for the Atlanta Falcons to pick in the third round, only one quarterback option had come off the board.

The Falcons had their pick of any QB option not named Kenny Pickett. Instead of Willis, they went with Cincinnati signal caller Desmond Ridder at No. 74 overall.

According to reports from ESPN NFL insider Jeremy Fowler, the Falcons went with Ridder because Willis “lacked the signature moments” during his collegiate career.

After serving as a backup option for the Auburn Tigers in his first two collegiate seasons, Willis transferred to Liberty. In his two years as a starter for the Flames, the talented dual-threat QB logged 5,107 yards and 47 touchdowns through the air, and 1,822 yards and 27 touchdowns on the ground.

Through his four-year career as a starter for Cincinnati, Ridder got much more exposure on the national stage. Ironically though, his career with the non-Power-Five Bearcats was initially a knock on his draft stock.

Ridder will likely start the season as a backup to veteran QB Marcus Mariota in Atlanta.

Willis was selected by the Tennessee Titans with the 86th overall pick in the draft.