NFL News and Rumors

Predicting When Desmond Ridder Will Make His First Start for Falcons

Isaiah De Los Santos
Predicting when rookie Desmond Ridder could start for the Atlanta Falcons during the 2022 NFL season.
Predicting when rookie Desmond Ridder could start for the Atlanta Falcons during the 2022 NFL season. / Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Falcons' quarterback room looks completely different heading into the 2022 season. Franchise legend Matt Ryan was traded to Indianapolis in April, and former Tennessee Titans starter Marcus Mariota was signed shortly thereafter to be his replacement.

However, Mariota now has some competition after the team selected Desmond Ridder in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft. Much of fans' focus has gone Ridder's way since he landed in Atlanta, and head coach Arthur Smith's recent comments have only added to the hype.

One of the biggest questions surrounding this team this season is: Will Ridder start? And if so, when? Looking at a few factors, we can make an educated guess on Ridder's starting potential in 2022.

Falcons Starting Quarterback 2022

Mariota is very clearly the frontrunner here. He's got the experience (61 starts in his career) and familiarity with coach Smith's system that make him almost a shoe-in to be the starter come Week 1.

That doesn't mean he's guaranteed that role, though. Mariota has been relegated to backup duties the past two seasons after he was benched during the 2019 campaign in Tennessee. He'll need to earn his place, especially with a talented young threat behind him on the depth chart.

The Falcons' absolute gauntlet of a 2022 schedule will put Mariota's potential to the test early on. Atlanta faces four playoff teams (the Los Angeles Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, San Francisco 49ers and Cincinnati Bengals) in its first 10 games, plus a trio of squads (the New Orleans Saints, Cleveland Browns and Los Angeles Chargers) that reloaded this offseason in hopes of contending.

The first 10 games should be a big enough sample size for Atlanta to get a read on Mariota's viability as a long-term starter. If he struggles mightily, or doesn't show enough, that opens the door for the Falcons to at least contemplate the decision to jump start Ridder's development.

Week 11 makes a ton of sense considering Atlanta will be coming off of a Thursday Night Football game in Week 10. That would give Smith and company 10 days to prep the rookie for his first taste of NFL action. Further adding to the appeal of Week 11 is that it's a home game against the Chicago Bears, who are projected to finish near the bottom of the standings in 2022.

It's hard to imagine Ridder doesn't at least get one start under his belt this year. Injuries have been an issue for Mariota, who failed to start all 16 games in each of his four seasons as the Titans' QB1. One missed week and a decent showing from the rookie could be all it takes to swing the race in Ridder's favor.

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Isaiah De Los Santos is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Isaiah De Los Santos also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username zayyy05328. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.