Falcons chose Ridder over Willis due to collegiate moments

Desmond Ridder was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft. The Falcons replaced quarterback Malik Willis, who remains on the board, along with Ridder. According to ESPN NFL insider Jeremy Fowler, the Falcons transferred Willis based on the absence of special moments in college, saying:

“After asking around, I get the feeling that Atlanta feels Malik Willis, despite his great talent, lacks the special moments while at Liberty to make such a decision, while Desmond Ridder – the selection. of the team in 74th place – presented a more complete body of work.”

Update: # Falcons draft Desmond Ridder than Malik Willis in part because they believe Willis “lacks signature moments” in college, says @JFowlerESPN

Another reason they picked the Cincinnati midfielder was because of his confidence and polish during the draft:

“Plus, Ridder’s confidence and batting in the process helped. Coaches who interviewed him noted that QB outlined his plan to beat a veteran at any wherever he lands.”


One quarterback played in a non-Power Five conference while the other played in a non-Power Five conference. Ridder played in the American Athletics Conference (AAC) with Cincinnati while Willis competed against Liberty, who is independent and not affiliated with a conference.

The Liberty Quartet was drafted with 12 picks behind Ridder by the Tennessee Titans.

During his four years at Cincinnati, Ridder hit 10,239 yards, 87 touchdowns and 28 interceptions. The back four won the AAC Best Offensive Player award in 2020 and 2021.

In the 2021 season, he is third in the AAC with 3,334 passing yards and second in the conference with 30 touchdown passes.

Willis played the first two years of his college career with Auburn before moving to Liberty. During his two years at Liberty, he had 5,107 passes, 47 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. The quartet also dashed 1,822 yards and 27 touches while at Liberty.

Will Desmond Ridder or Malik Willis have any game time in the 2022 season for the Falcons or Titans?

Malik Willis at the NFL Combine in 2022
Malik Willis at the NFL Combine in 2022

The Cincinnati quarterback is more likely to see some central action for the Falcons this season as he can compete with Marcus Mariota for the starting spot.

As for Willis, quarterback Ryan Tannehill is currently the right man for Tennessee, but we could see him included in the iconic squad in some capacity.


We’ll see if the Falcons get the call right with Ridder over Willis as both signal callers will begin their journey in the NFL as the 2022 season gets underway.

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Edited by Windy Goodloe