I'd first like to remind everyone that we're not Eagles fans. We're not Jets fans. We support our players because they need our support. In the end, only time will tell if this pick was the right one, but I wholeheartedly believe it was.
I was at Winter Park last night and when I heard the commissioner announce our pick, I was stunned. I believed it was going to be Prince and I didn't expect Ponder to go that high. Now, I wasn't upset; I would have liked Prince, but I've been wanting Ponder ever since the Senior Bowl. I think that, in the end, this pick will be very similar to the Gophers hiring Jerry Kill. A lot of people were upset with it; they wanted a big-name hire like Mike Leach. However, instead of being caught up with name recognition, the Gophers went with the right man for the job. Vikings fans wanted a big name draft pick. In the end, I think they, just like the Gophers, got the right guy. And here's why:
1. Christian Ponder is a highly intelligent, highly accurate QB. He makes quick, very good decisions with the football and he knows how to move around in the pocket. He also has the mobility to roll out and even run for the first down if the play breaks down. He played in a West Coast Pro-style offense in college. We're playing a West Coast style offense that will be tailored to the skill set of our player. Our system requires a highly intelligent, highly accurate QB who make quick decisions with the football. In the end, he really fits our system and the skill set of our players very nicely.
2. The two main knocks on Ponder are his injury history and his arm strength, or perceived lack thereof. Now, on the issue of arm strength. If you go back to his Junior season, he had all the arm strength an NFL offense could ever need. Yeah he probably can't hit a bucket from 80 yards out, but you don't do that in the NFL anyways. His arm strength decreased when he busted the Bursa Sac in his shoulder last season. He had surgery on it in December, yet at the Senior Bowl, I saw him throw an accurate pass 40 yards down field for a completion. Also, his arm strength proved greatly improved at the Combine. His surgery was a success, and his arm strength returned. Now, his injury history was a mild concern. When he was injured, his quality of play decreased. However, it shows a lot about the young man we're bringing in that he played through a very painful shoulder injury for his entire senior season. He's a tough QB. Also, injury history is a very fickle thing. The main reason Adrian Peterson was allowed to fall to us at 7 was because he had concerns about shoulder injuries. He's missed a few games over his career, but it hasn't really been an issue; and I'm certain no one regrets that selection. On the flip side, neither Matthew Stafford nor Chad Pennington had injury issues coming out of college. Well they certainly do now. Injuries aren't something you can really predict unless it's a recurring problem such as arthritis or migraines (though I definitely DO NOT regret the Percy Harvin pick). The medical staff cleared him to play, now all we can do is try to get the O-line help to protect him.
3. I understand why so many people thought he was a reach. We had a need at QB and most people had him with a late 1st or early 2nd round grade. Naturally people think we reached to fill a position. However, think back to the draft last year. The Jags picked Tyson Alualu with the #10 pick. Most had a mid second round grade on him. People thought they reached to fill the gapping whole they had at DT. But when the season was over, Tyson Alualu had outperformed every DT in last years class except for Suh. He even played better than the #3 overall pick, Gerald McCoy. People would have considered Joe Montana a reach in the 1st round as he was drafted in the third. Similarly, Tom Brady would have been a considered a huge reach in the 1st round. I doubt people would think that now. In the end, these people are getting paid millions of dollars and spend thousands of hours picking apart these draftees. They know more than anyone how each prospect will fit with their team. If they think he's worthy of the #12 overall pick, they have their reasons and **** what anyone else has to say. People need to remember that the FO knows a lot more than we do. Let me remind you of another perceived reach the Vikings made in a previous draft. It was the second round of the 2007 draft. The Vikings decided to pass on WR Dwayne Jarrett, who many believed was a superior prospect, in favor of one Sidney Rice. They were ripped for that decision. Clearly it turned out pretty well for us. Oh and Jarrett was recently arrested for his 2nd DWI and is currently out of the league. The team that drafted him was picking 1st overall last night.
4. There was a lot of defensive talent left on the board that many people think we should have taken advantage of. Like I said, I would've loved to have gotten Prince. But you have to wonder, why was all that talent even available? I mean the Cowboys, Texans, and Lion all have an even greater need at CB than the Vikings, yet they all passed on Prince also. Fairley was passed up by his the team that employs his college D-line coach with the Titans. Robert Quinn hasn't played a down of football since 2009. This is similar to how so many teams, including the Vikings, passed on Jimmy Clausen next year. People were stunned that they would let a potential franchise QB fall past them. But like I said, the FO knows more than we do, and it turns out it was the right choice to let him fall, as the team that drafted him just used the 1st overall pick on another QB. There's a reason that there was so much perceived defensive talent available at #12. There's also a reason it remained available after we picked.
5. Could the Vikings have traded down and still gotten Ponder? Possibly. However, in order to trade down, you need to have a partner and you need the trade to be worth while. And what would happen if we traded down just to have the Redskins or Miami take him or have another team trade ahead of us to take him. It was a very good possibility. In the end, if you've identified your QBotF, you don't play games like that and risk losing him, you pull the trigger. That's what Rick Spielman did last night.
In the end you have to remember that this front office has a long history of making very good decisions in the draft, particularly on the offensive side of the ball. They've drafted extremely well, bringing us the 2007 and 2009 Offensive Rookies of the Year and swung a trade for a possible future Hall of Famer in Jared Allen. They've done their homework, they put in the time and they were ultimately willing to potentially put their jobs on the line for Christian Ponder. The decision's been made, and I personally feel very optimistic about it.
TL;DR Chill out, Ponder will be fine.