NFL Draft: Can Christian Ponder Fit the Cincinnati Bengals New West Coast Look?

Matt GrayContributor IMarch 17, 2011

MOBILE, AL - JANUARY 29:  Quarterback Christian Ponder #7 of the South Team  is hoisted into the air while celebrating after passing for a touchdown to wide receiver Jeremy Kerley #84 against the 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

I recently wrote an article about the Cincinnati Bengals' quarterback needs, and how they shouldn't overlook Andy Dalton, a guy who I really like and feel has been overlooked by most TV/internet pundits.

However by focusing on Andy Dalton, I myself am guilty of overlooking the rest of the field. I will continue to, however, overlook Gabbert, Newton, Locker and Mallett, as I believe that these guys will go higher than I think the Bengals need to/should take a QB.

Hence, why I'd like to look at another QB slowly generating buzz, Christian Ponder, AKA the QB “viewed by some as the top true West Coast Offense quarterback in the draft.” according to Rob Rang of CBS Sports.

The former Florida State Seminole recently worked out in Tallahassee at his Pro-Day and continued to build upon what has been a strong offseason after a season plagued with injuries, with a solid Senior Bowl performance and a decent Combine outing:

Combine Results

40 Time: 4.65 seconds 

Vertical: 34 inches

Height: 6'3"

Weight: 227 pounds

Mike Mayock of NFL Network watched the work-out and said Ponder continued to impress, saying that he has an "Above average arm, and that was the knock for him, he's got plenty of arm strength to play in the NFL, his footwork is excellent, and he's got an advantage over the other spread Quarterbacks...because he's been under center, because he's been in a play action game where he turns his back to the line of scrimmage...i really do believe he's ascending".

Both Marvin Lewis and Jay Gruden were on hand at Florida State's Pro-Day this week, with Lewis being the only head coach present. Gruden had the following to say, via the Tallahassee Democrat: “With Christian, especially with the issues he had with his arm and his elbow, we just want to see that he’s spinning it and that he’s been working.

"You want to see what kind of velocity he has on the ball and his accuracy”.

With a strong Bengals showing at his pro day, the interest in Ponders' talents is definitely there. It just comes down to whether (if Ponder's stock continues to rise) the Bengals will trade up in the second round to snatch him (assuming they don't take him at the top of it), something most Bengals fans would agree is quite un-Bengals-like.

It's quite realistic to argue that the likes of Locker, Mallett and Newton don't have the style of quarterbacking to play the West Coast system, with various issues between them.

While one could argue in favor of Blaine Gabbert, we're talking about the Cincinnati Bengals here, which means, if Ponder looks good enough and is going to be hanging around in the second/third round, the Bengals will be more than happy to wait and take him then to avoid a hefty payout to the likes of Gabbert.

With a re-emphasis on the run game, Ponder could be an attractive (safe) pick for the Bengals to replace Carson Palmer. He has all the tools to run a Jay Gruden West Coast system, it's just whether or not his stock continues to rise out of Cincinnati's reach in the weeks before the draft.