Senior Bowl 2011: Christian Ponder Leads Quarterbacks, Wins MVP Award

David Kindervater@TheDGKCorrespondent IJanuary 29, 2011

MOBILE, AL - JANUARY 29: Quarterback  Christian Ponder #7 of the South Team passes over defensive lineman Pierre Allen #95 North Team during the fourth quarter of the Under Armour Senior Bowl on January 29, 2011 at Ladd-Pebbles Stadium in Mobile, Alabama.  (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images for Under Armour)
Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Earlier this week, I previewed the 2011 Senior Bowl quarterbacks for the Minnesota Vikings. One player I did not include was Florida State QB Christian Ponder. But he outplayed the rest of the talent under center and won the Senior Bowl Most Valuable Player award today as his South squad beat the North team 24-10.

Ponder, who was the starting QB for the South team, completed 7-of-13 passes for 132 yards and two touchdowns in the victory.

Questions about Ponder's health have been casting a dark cloud over his National Football League future, but that's why events like the Senior Bowl and upcoming NFL scouting combine exist—for pro prospects to prove their worth and impress NFL scouts and personnel. Ponder took just such a step in the right direction today.

As long as he can stay healthy, Christian Ponder has two of the most important qualities a quarterback in the NFL must possess—intelligence and accuracy. And his experience in a pro-style offense at FSU doesn't hurt his chances for future success, either.

Among Ponder's many positive qualities, I especially like his calmness in the pocket and the way he keeps his eyes downfield amidst a pass rush. A perfect example of this was late in the game when he completed his second touchdown pass to TCU receiver Jeremy Kerley. With traffic all around and the pocket closing in on him, Ponder was calmly able to deliver a great throw with a flick of his wrist for a 23-yard score.

I felt like I was watching an NFL quarterback in the making on this play.

Ponder is a guy Minnesota will continue to take a look at, but his health history—specifically multiple injuries to his throwing shoulder—is going to scare some teams away. We'll see if it's enough to make the Vikings look elsewhere for a quarterback. One thing's for sure, though. I can guarantee he's on the their watch list after today's performance.