Surprised By Vikings Ponder Pick? Don’t Be
I was watching the NFL Draft last night and when the Vikings took Florida State QB Christian Ponder with the 12th overall selection, the mood of those I was watching with was not great. There were several well known names on the defensive side of the ball still available to take, but the Vikings wanted a QB. They liked Ponder and didn't want to lose him to Washington, who were poised to take him 4 picks later if you believe that rumor. CBS Sports graded the Vikings pick an "A" as they are high on Ponder too, but there are many fans who need a lot of convincing on taking him so high.
The assembled media was standing in a cordoned off area of the Vikings' practice facility on Thursday night in Winter Park when Rick Spielman made his way to the stage to address the crowd that had gathered for the team's draft party.
Although we could not see what transpired, it was impossible not to hear it. As Spielman fielded questions from Vikings play-by-play voice Paul Allen and others from radio flagship KFAN, there were more than a few catcalls directed at the Vikings vice president of player personnel.
This has been a long offseason for Vikings fans, who were frustrated by the team's 6-10 finish and haven't had their mood improved by an NFL lockout that might or might not be over and so far has cost the Vikings the ability to improve themselves through free agency.
No doubt fueled by a few cocktails, some of these folks got the opportunity to direct their disgust at the Vikings brass.
A few minutes earlier they had chanted for the Vikings to draft Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara. Also available with the Vikings on the clock were Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley; North Carolina defensive end Robert Quinn; and California defensive end Cameron Jordan.
And yet when Minnesota turned in its draft card it carried the name of Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder. This was a guy projected as a third- or fourth-round pick a few months back when the well-respected Pro Football Weekly draft guide came out.
The opinion of many will be that the Vikings reached for a quarterback who is considered injury prone and was bothered by problems with his throwing arm last season. However, if you are really shocked by this pick, you simply weren't paying attention to what the Vikings were doing in the months leading up to this draft.
The view from this corner had been that the Vikings' ideal situation would be to trade back in the first round, take a quarterback like Ponder, and recoup the third-round pick lost to New England in the Randy Moss trade. However, as the draft neared it became apparent that there was going to be a run on quarterbacks and that it would be sooner than most had expected.
The Vikings simply weren't going to let themselves be left without what they considered a top-tier QB coming out of this draft. All you had to do was listen to coach Leslie Frazier as he addressed a small group of reporters last month at the owners meetings in New Orleans to figure out that this team was going to take a quarterback early in the draft.
Ideally, the Vikings could have considered their options through free agency or maybe a trade if the lockout hadn't started on March 11, but beyond the labor situation it became clear that Frazier wants the chance to develop a quarterback and end the rotation of veterans who came through the door in Brad Childress' four-plus seasons as coach.
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