Since the draft I have seen and heard quite a bit of criticism about the Vikings using the No. 12 pick on Florida State’s QB Christian Ponder. While picking a QB in the first round is generally always a gamble, I personally feel that Ponder was one of the better QBs in the Draft.
Many people feel that Minnesota could have traded down and acquired more picks and still have gotten Ponder with a later pick. What I don’t think some people understand is that if the Vikings feel that Ponder is going to be our QB of the future then you don’t take a giant risk in losing him, especially with QB needy Washington waiting a few picks behind.
After years of veteran and project QB’s I think it is time that the Vikings found a QB that will be the face of the franchise. While I would have loved to trade down and see the Vikings get more picks and Christian Ponder, that’s just not the way the cards fell. The Vikings did what they needed and got their man.
I have been a giant Vikings fan for a long time and am passionate about the purple and gold. Even though I may have taken a drink or two from the Ponder Kool-Aid please share your opinions and thoughts on this pick and this article.
So let’s take a look at some of the pros, cons, and questions looming around Ponder.
While at Florida State Ponder ran a complex and pro style offense. QB's who went earlier (and even later) in the draft still have the question of "will they be able to adjust to a pro style offense and complexity of the NFL?" That question mark is not quite as big for Ponder and his knowledge gives him a nice edge.
Also, his ability to read defenses will allow him to adjust at the line of scrimmage, change plays if necessary, and utilize the many offensive weapons he'll have. This will be a valued ability in the Black and Blue NFC north where he will be facing some stout defenses.
Not only is Ponder considered a very smart football player, he is intelligent off the field as well. Ponder didn't just graduate (which is an accomplishment many QB’s in the NFL cannot claim) but he received a Masters Degree in Finance.
In a league where teams are worried about maturity, work ethic, and intelligence . The Vikings shouldn’t have to worry about this with Ponder.
Although not a perfect indicator of NFL success Ponder did score a 35 on the Wonderlic Test. Which was behind Gabbert, McElory, and Kaepernick. But ahead of Stanzi, Dalton, Newton, and Locker.
Ponder had a higher career completion percentage (62%) than the three QB’s that were taken before him and in his Senior year had a TD/INT ratio of 20/8: Let’s compare these to the earlier picked QB’s.
Newtion: 55.3% TD/INT ratio 30/7
Locker 53.6% TD/INT ratio 17/9
Gabbert 58.9% TD/INT ratio 16/9
Ponder should eventually be able to rack up yards through the air with talents such as Harvin, Rice (if we can keep him), Shianco, and newly acquired Rudolph.
Musgrave was able to take Matt Ryan and turn him into an immediate playoff caliber QB (I know, I ‘m sure it wasn’t all Musgrave). With having a coach/mentor such as Musgrave Ponder could develop into an elite QB if correctly utilized in the right system (just took another swig of the Ponder Kool-Aid).
Also, Musgrave’s system should allow Ponder to utilize multiple Tight Ends and Receivers, and then of course there is always handing the ball off to AP.
Now I am playing the Devil’s Advocate.
Critics have suggested that Ponder does not have the arm strength of elite QB’s. (Although I would like to point out, they did say the same thing about Brady). While there should be plenty of opportunities to make short to mid range throws, will Ponder have the ability to Zip them in threading the needle? Make the big long throws when needed? Can he make the defense drop back and fear the long bomb and exploit the talents of Sydney Rice?
Ponder has battle Injuries throughout his career with elbow problems and a separate shoulder. Even though Jimbo Fisher stated that Ponder is at full strength and his ability is not hindered by his old injuries, this gives cause for concern.
Now we did hit a home run in drafting the potentially injury prone Adrian Peterson years ago, but we also don’t want to end up with the problems the Lions have had to deal with in Matt Stafford. Stafford has great talent but they can’t keep him on the field. And unless the Vikings O-Line can stay healthy and protect Ponder I am afraid we may have a talented QB sidelined for a large portion of the season.
Should the Vikings acquire a Veteran QB and allow Ponder the time to develop on the side lines?
Will Ponder get ample time to learn the offense, before being thrown in?
What if Joe Webb develops and outplays Ponder in the pre-season? Will the Vikings feel obligated to go with Ponder?
Do you put Ponder in with an O-Line that struggled to protect the QB last year?
I do believe Ponder could be an excellent QB for the Vikings under the right circumstances. I have faith and like the current coaching staff with Frazier and Musgrave.
Please comment with your thoughts on the Pros and Cons and looming questions?