Rewinding the clock to the 2011 NFL Draft the belief was the Vikings would target a quarterback early on who would be “the guy” for the next several years. Leslie Frazier made it no secret he was out to find the next Joe Flacco or Matt Ryan, especially considering the other talented QBs in the NFC North.
So when forming their draft board in March the Vikings placed a strong emphasis on reviewing Missouri’s Blaine Gabbert. The Vikings would so enamored with Gabbert both Frazier and vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman attended his pro day and stayed with him later in the night for additional meetings. It was widely believed Gabbert was the Vikings top quarterback followed by (in order) Washington’s Jake Locker, Auburn’s Cam Newton then Florida State’s Christian Ponder. So after Newton went 1st overall to the Panthers and Locker surprisingly went to 8th to the Titans the Vikings placed a call to the Dallas Cowboys trying to acquire the 9th pick to snag Gabbert, but ultimately that trade fell through as Dallas wanted our 12th overall pick and our second round pick in return. As folks know, Jacksonville traded up to draft Gabbert 10th overall and the Vikings took Ponder at 12.
If there’s any silver lining to a dismal Vikings season, purple fans should be grateful they have Ponder over Gabbert and weren’t the team trading up. Both quarterbacks have thrown for 6 touchdowns and 6 interceptions so far, however anyone who has watched the two would give the nod to Ponder on being the better quarterback. Gabbert has shown poor pocket presence, suspect decision making and bad accuracy. Gabbert was also benched for Luke McCown yesterday in the 4th quarter after only throwing 136 yards and completing only 13 of 29 attempts. Ponder on the other hand has done fairly well whenever facing pressure, demonstrated much better accuracy and has won over the support of his teammates.
Yes, 11 games is too small of a sample size to declare a verdict on this one. But still trading up to get Gabbert would have also cost the Vikings their second round pick and the results there have been pretty good as well. Kyle Rudolph looks to be one of the games bright young tight ends, is a solid building block for the future and has become good friends with Ponder. Not to mention a badass catch too.
Jon Merckle may be followed on Twitter @thevikingpig