Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder (7) Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-US PRESSWIRE

The Hardships of a Rookie Season: Sizing Up Vikings QB Christian Ponder



     The NFL Draft is still over two months away, but unless you’re a New England Patriots or New York Giants fan, you’re already thinking about April 26th and what it could mean for your team.  “ESPN” is already airing segments with Mel Kiper Jr., talking about what he thinks each team should do with their picks.  Mel recently did a bit on our boys the Vikings, but he seemed to get a bit sidetracked talking about how he thinks the Vikings basically shouldn’t have drafted Christian Ponder with their 1st round pick in the 2011 Draft.  He’s still talking about how he thinks the Vikings “reached” for Ponder, saying he doesn’t think he’s worthy of being THAT high of a pick.  Okay, we’ve all heard that before, but Mel goes on to talk about how our Vikes are going to be “…stuck in the cellar in that division year after year…”, if Ponder isn’t as good of a pick as the Vikings think he is, and even goes so far as to say that Ponder being our guy “…could spell a little bit of trouble…”.  As if this isn’t enough to at least get under your skin a little, he digs in a little more by talking about how the Vikings have backed themselves into a corner by drafting Ponder, because now they can’t draft Robert Griffin III.  As the segment went on, Todd McShay made a few good points about how a team simply can’t draft that way.  McShay went on to point out that when a team likes a player as much as the Vikings like Ponder, you can’t pass up on him in hopes that you can maybe draft another guy in a year.  Bottom line, Ponder was available and the Vikings brass loved him, so they took him.  I was just glad McShay shed a little light on that for Kiper.  Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against Mel Kiper Jr.  The guy is a draft board guru, and I have tons of respect for him!  It was just a little hard to hear him talk so negatively about our team’s QB.

     Ponder’s numbers in his rookie season weren’t very pretty.   This is probably why so many people are quick to say our team messed up drafting him so early.  What a lot of those people don’t take into account, is all that Christian had working against him this past season.  I think it’s fair to say our team had at least ONE of the worst pass-blocking offensive lines in the NFL this year, if not THE worst.  It’s hard enough for a veteran starter to get his feet set and make good reads with that kind of blocking(or lack thereof), let alone a rookie who didn’t get to start from day one, thanks to the Donovan McNabb Show(or once again, lack thereof).  Also, let us not forget that we don’t have a true deep threat wide receiver on the team.  Percy Harvin is one of the greatest things since sliced bread, but he’s not that big, tall Randy Moss-like deep ball catching kind of player we’re missing.  On top of all this working against Mr. Ponder, there was that little thing called the lock-out!  So much was missed out on because of that stupid lock-out!  A lot of people don’t take that into account.

     In closing, let me just throw a few names and numbers at you.  These numbers are from the following guys’ 1st season in the NFL as starting QB’s.  First off our boy Christian Ponder:  13 TD’s & 13 INT’s.  Matthew Stafford:  13 TD’s & 20 INT’s.  Drew Brees:  17 TD’s & 16 INT’s.  Peyton Manning:  26 TD’s & 28 INT’s.  Am I saying Ponder is the next Drew Brees or Peyton Manning?  Maybe, maybe not.  Only time will tell that.  What I am saying for sure is that a lot of people who think we made a mistake in the first round of the 2011 Draft need to just cool their jets a bit, take into account what diversity our rookie QB faced this season, look at the positives he showed us against Chicago in his first real NFL action, and against Green Bay in that first meeting, and just give the kid some time to develop!  Oh, and a really awesome offensive tackle and deep threat wide receiver would help too!

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