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Falcons’ Arthur Smith Clear on Current Starting QB After NFL Draft

Atlanta trading longtime quarterback Matt Ryan to the Colts in March marked the end of an era for the Falcons, though there is little ambiguity on the team’s next starting QB.

Even with the franchise recently selecting Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ridder at No. 74 in the third round of the 2022 NFL draft, Falcons coach Arthur Smith told reporters Mariota currently gives the Falcons their best chance to win going forward. 

“The best player is going to play but Marcus being the vet, that’s the way it’ll go starting out,” Smith said after the draft.

However, while Mariota may be current starter, it does not mean Ridder won’t get some playing time in Year 1. Per The Athletic, Smith did not rule out creating a package for the rookie quarterback in the Falcons’ offense.

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“We’ll see,” Smith said about a potential package for Ridder. “We’ve got a long way to go until September. I’m not going to tell you our long-term plan or short-term plan. … It’ll play itself out.”

Ridder compared his game and athletic ability to that of Mariota, saying the two share “athletic abilities, leadership and their ability to extend plays down the field.” During his time at Cincinnati, Ridder threw for 10,239 yards, 87 touchdowns and 28 interceptions in four seasons. He also went 44–6 as a starter.

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• Falcon Report: Desmond Ridder vs. Malik Willis: Falcons Right QB Draft Choice?

For more Atlanta Falcons coverage, go to Falcon Report.