Teddy Bridgewater Will Win Vikings' Quarterback Battle over Christian Ponder

Sean ODonnellContributor IIIMay 16, 2014

Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater drops back to pass during Minnesota Vikings minicamp in Eden Prairie, Minn., Friday, May 16, 2014. New Vikings coach Mike Zimmer set to work getting young players like Bridgewater, linebacker Anthony Barr and defensive backs Antone Exum and Kendall James up to speed on what will be expected of them in the NFL.  (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)
Ann Heisenfelt/Associated Press

When the Minnesota Vikings moved up to select Teddy Bridgewater with the 2014 NFL draft's No. 32 overall selection, former first-round pick Christian Ponder must have known his days as the team's starter were numbered.

They certainly are.

Under Ponder, the Vikings offense has never really been able to take flight. It's not that he's been terriblehe simply hasn't lived up to his first-round billing.

Jamey Eisenberg of CBS Sports tweeted his comical take on the Bridgewater selection:

Through three years, Ponder has played in 36 games, throwing for 6,436 yards, 38 touchdowns and 34 interceptions for a 77.3 passer rating.

Again, the numbers aren't terrible, but with some talented wide receivers and the league's best running back behind him, Ponder should have been able to accomplish more.

It's time for a change.

Despite common belief, Vikings general manager Rick Spielman told Ben Goessling of ESPN.com he had no intentions of trading Ponder before the draft. He also hinted at drafting another quarterback:

Christian's still a very young quarterback. He's shown flashes, but he just hasn't been as consistent as you want yet. You can't be afraid. If there's a guy there, regardless of position, that you have strong feelings for, whether it's at 8 or 40 or wherever it is, or 16, then you take him.

The one thing you cannot be afraid [of] in this job is to take chances or take risks on guys you feel strongly about. When you don't do that, I don't know how you get better.

The guy the team felt strongly about happened to be Bridgewater.

Before the draft—even in the midst of post-pro day scrutiny—Bridgewater appeared to be the most NFL-ready quarterback prospect.

He took commanding lead of Louisville's offense, leading the team to a 12-1 record and trouncing Miami by a score of 36-9 in the Russell Athletic Bowl.

The Vikings coaching staff has already noticed his leadership ability.

During an interview with Albert Breer, via Mike Coppinger of NFL.com, head coach Mike Zimmer had some high praise for his new quarterback:

"Teddy's been great. He's had a good command of the offense. I like his leadership. I like his determination. He's throwing the ball well. He's got good, quick feet. I think he's a good athlete. So he's progressing at a good pace."

This came after Zimmer told Breer that Bridgewater would take first-team reps at OTAs and compete for the starting position.

It won't be much of a competition.

With Bridgewater's experience, intelligence, accuracy and leadership ability, he will easily supplant Ponder as the Vikings' 2014 starter.

He's already saying all the right things, according to a tweet from the Vikings' official Twitter account:

It's commonplace in the NFL to start rookie quarterbacks these days. Throwing the young signal-callers into the fire has produced many winning teams—simply look at Russell Wilson with the Seattle Seahawks.

Bridgewater has the same opportunity for success.

With a solid offensive line, a mix of veteran experience and speed in the wide receiver corps, a powerful running game and Zimmer's ability to get the defense on the right track, Bridgewater has all of the tools necessary to play at a very high level as a rookie.

So, the Ponder experiment went down in flames.

That's all right. Bridgewater will make it easy for Vikings fans to get excited about the quarterback position once more.