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#pounditThursday, January 20, 2022

ESPN’s Mel Kiper has surprising pick for QB with ‘most upside’ in draft

Mel Kiper

The 2022 NFL Draft is not nearly as top-heavy with quarterbacks as last year’s class was, and there has been no real consensus about the order in which QBs will be selected. Mel Kiper Jr. has ranked Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett as his top QB prospect, but you may be surprised to hear which passer the longtime ESPN analyst thinks has the most upside.

Kiper said on Wednesday’s edition of “Get Up!” that he thinks Desmond Ridder of Cincinnati has more upside than any quarterback in the 2022 draft. Kiper had an extremely flattering comparison for Ridder, saying he is a lot like Josh Allen and that the concerns surrounding him are the same ones we heard with Allen in 2018.

Here’s more:

Ridder has 2,121 yards, 20 touchdown passes and just five interceptions this season. He’s also rushed for four scores, though he is running a lot less this year than in years past. Ridder has 214 rushing yards this season after finishing with well over 500 in each of his first three years as a starter.

Though there have been a lot of concerns about Cincinnati’s schedule, Ridder is the type of player who could shoot up the draft board. Most analysts agree that Pickett and Ole Miss’s Matt Corral are the top two QBs in the class, with many also expecting Liberty’s Malik Willis to go in the first round. Ridder could easily sneak into the first round once the annual quarterback frenzy begins.

It should be noted that Kiper took a lot of heat for ranking Allen as his top QB in 2018, but he couldn’t have been more right about that. The Buffalo Bills star is an MVP candidate. Baker Mayfield went first overall that year and Sam Darnold went third.

If Kiper sees the same things in Ridder that he saw in Allen, that should be a good sign for the Cincinnati star.

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