First off let me say that yes I am an FSU guy, and I make no bones about it. With that being said, I rarely go out and really pimp FSU players because most people will look at me and say he’s just a homer. In Christian Ponder’s case I will stand on the highest mountain and scream his name. Yes I will admit I have a bit of a mancrush on Ponder, but hey we all have them.
Now that that is out of the way let’s get down to business. Many if not most fans want Miami to draft a QB. We don’t know how the Dolphins feel about Henne for certain, by the phrase “for now” that echoes from Jeff Ireland’s voice every time he talks about Henne being the teams starting QB speaks volumes to me on the feelings the organization has for him. The Henne argument has been argued ad nauseum over the last few months and will more than likely continue. This write up is about who I consider the second rated and most pro-ready QB in the 2011 draft; Christian Ponder.
Yesterday FSU held its pro day and while Rodney Hudson and a few other players worked out this day was all about Ponder. Unfortunately there is this thing called a lock-out going on so no NFL receivers could make the trip with their team and workout with him and FSU has no senior or draft eligible WR so enter possible future HOF receiver Isaac Bruce (who shares the same agent Jimmy Sexton as Ponder). Instead of throwing the usual 60 or so passes Ponder threw 35 in front of approximately 40 scouts and coaches that represented 28 teams. Mike Mayok reported on Path to the Draft last night that Ponder looked sharp with and above average arm. Wait, what was that? An above average arm, but I thought Christian Ponder had a weak arm? Oh wait, that’s just some media pundit making a statement because he or she saw a game from 2010 where he was playing with a ruptured bursa sac, and of course the armchair draft gurus see that report and run with it, without actually doing research. After the Mayok report, Mike Lombardi reported how Ponder wont make it past the first twelve picks in the second round, and we could see someone trade back into round one to take him. He expects Ponder to go somewhere in the second half of round one. Funny, I have been saying this for months.
Christian Ponder to date has had the best off-season of any QB in the 2011 draft. As Mayok said he was the best QB on the field at the Senior Bowl, and most thought he had the best overall combine of the QBs. Ponder has shown his arm is healthy and the rumors of his “weak” arm have been greatly exaggerated. Teams have gone back and looked at tape on him from 2009 and according to Mike Lombardi, and Charles Davis they like what they see. What they see is a QB with as Mayok said, “an above average arm that can make every throw in the NFL.” He is a team captain that is undoubtedly a leader off and on the field with no off the field character issues that played for 4 years and started for three in a pro-style offense taking snaps under center utilizing three, five and seven step drops turning his back to the defense and having to find receivers and make quick decisions. Is Ponder perfect, no, does he have those WTF moments, of course he does just like every QB that has ever played the game. What he does give you is a QB that is smart enough to learn the playbook quickly, step in right away, and be a team leader.
It has been said that Miami will transition the offense to a hybrid style of the New England Patriots. Well if you look at that offense it’s a version of the west coast meets the spread. The QB needs to make quick reads and put the ball in a position for the receivers to make YAC yards. There is no better QB in this draft that does that especially on the short and intermediate throws than Ponder. Sparano has also commented that he wants a QB that can extend the play. Ponder has been compared in his ability to move in the pocket and create with his legs to Aron Rodgers. Now before anyone goes nuts, I understand Rodgers has a very strong arm and while I will argue Ponder does not have a weak arm, I will not compare it to Rogers; I would compare his arm strength similar to that of Matt Ryan.
It’s being rumored that Cincinnati and Minnesota are very high on Ponder and would like to take him in the second round. I personally don’t think Ponder slides past Seattle at #25 if he is even there. Ponder seems like the type of high caliber, high character person Miami has been known to draft over the past three years. I fully expect Miami to try and trade back five to seven picks and pick up a second round or and additional third round pick. However, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Miami take Ponder at #15 if they can’t move back. My feeling there is so be it, while I would love to see them gain additional picks by moving back if they feel Ponder is the guy they want as their franchise QB then get him and make sure no one else slips in front of you to do it.
So while I continue to beat the drum many will agree and many will disagree, but I am wholeheartedly pimping one of my FSU guys in Christian Ponder to be drafted by Miami at some point in round one. I feel that whatever team drafts him will have their franchise QB for years to come; I just would like to see that in Miami.