Throughout the 2011 NFL Draft process, Cam Newton has been the quarterback most linked to the Buffalo Bills, mainly due to the idea that head coach Chan Gailey values athleticism more than anything at the position.
However, Christian Ponder may very well be the quarterback the Bills head coach and general manager Buddy Nix have agreed upon the entire time.
Coach Gailey and his staff had a chance to work with Ponder at the Senior Bowl, and Ponder turned in an MVP performance. That week of practice and the game itself helped Ponder start moving up the draft boards in most experts’ minds.
Ponder is an intelligent man, both on and off the field. He received the James Tatum Award as the top student-athlete in the Atlantic Coast Conference, per Mark Gaughan’s article in The Buffalo News.
Ponder also scored a respectable 35 on the Combine’s Wonderlic test. He ran a pro-style offense at Florida State, so he is used to making the necessary reads. However, intelligence is not the only positive Ponder has.
He is also athletic enough to make plays on the move outside of the pocket. He is also accurate, having a 62 percent completion rate throughout his college career.
Ponder does have injury concerns, but has shown the ability to play through them, which has garnered him the respect of his teammates. He has all the qualities of a successful quarterback and possesses the necessary physical tools as well.
He will not wow you with a 50-yard bomb, but he will be accurate and occasionally stretch the field when it is required.
Even former Buffalo Bills wide receiver Andre Reed has linked the Bills and Ponder. On Twitter, he said (and then later changed that to hoped) that he looked forward to calling Ponder’s name in Round 2. Reed will be announcing the Bills’ second-round pick. He also said that the Bills’ brass loves Ponder.
Ponder has what Gailey really wants in a quarterback: decision-making ability and accuracy. According to an interview with the Fan 590 in Toronto, that is what Gailey believes is the most important part of a quarterback. The rest of the interview can be found here.
Ponder has shown the ability to diagnose what defenses are doing because of playing in a pro-style offense that requires a quarterback to make reads all over the field and be accurate once he makes his decision, as evidenced by that 62 percent completion percentage.
If Coach Gailey was impressed enough by both the tape of Ponder’s career at Florida State and with how he performed at the Senior Bowl and his Pro Day to draft him, Ponder will be the Bills’ pick at quarterback.