Desmond Ridder Signs Atlanta Falcons
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Falcons Rated Lowly in ESPN’s NFL Future Power Rankings

There’s more excitement in north Georgia around the Atlanta Falcons heading into training camp this year than there’s been in a long time. But that Falcons excitement is not shared around the league.

On ESPN’s NFL future power rankings, the Falcons weren’t at the very bottom but failed to crack the top 20. That’s been a theme on power rankings lists for Atlanta throughout the offseason.

To build these power rankings, ESPN used five different categories to determine the brightness of every team’s future. Those five categories were the roster minus quarterback, quarterback, coaching, draft and front office.

The Falcons failed to finish better than 18th in any of those categories. ESPN placed them in the bottom four in both quarterback and front office.

The ESPN analysts called the team’s collection of young offensive weapons the “reason for hope.” But they also added the concern is behind center.

“I like Ridder’s mobility, ability to throw on the move and his effectiveness in the play-action game on short-to-intermediate throws,” wrote ESPN’s Louis Riddick. “But the field vision, decision-making and ball placement/accuracy? I need to see improvement.

“Atlanta can give him time, though, and see if efficiency and consistency start to emerge as he gets comfortable in Smith’s system.”

That’s not an overall horrible evaluation. Surely, Ridder does need to get better to be a franchise quarterback.

But nationally, he doesn’t seem to be receiving enough recognition for his decent play down the stretch of last season. After the team started 5-8, Ridder led the Falcons to a 2-2 record in meaningless games. He completed 63.5% of his passes for 708 yards with 2 touchdowns and zero interceptions.

That’s not a bad beginning to a career. So, it makes sense to have a wait-and-see approach as Riddick suggested. But instead, analysts such Bleacher Report’s Alex Ballentine and NBC Sports’ Chris Simms have insinuated this offseason that they already know Ridder is not a franchise quarterback.

Even when complimenting the Falcons this offseason, ESPN writers can’t help but criticize Ridder at least a little.

“The Falcons may have the most complete roster in the NFC South — even with Desmond Ridder at QB,” wrote ESPN’s Tyler Fulgham on ESPN on July 3. “I know he’s not proven yet, but I trust Arthur Smith to put him in good spots to succeed.

“He has the weapons surrounding him and the type of scheme that will make it as easy as possible for him to manage the offense.”

The good news with ESPN’s NFL future power rankings was the Falcons were ahead of the New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. ESPN placed the Saints and Buccaneers at No. 25 and 31 on the list, respectively.

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