Drafter Strangelove: Or, How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Christian Ponder

Good evening, Seminole fans. My name is Christopher Gates, and I'm the head blogger over at The Daily Norseman, a site that I'm guessing a few of you have at least stopped by over the past couple of days.

Going into the 2011 NFL Draft, pretty much everybody knew that the Vikings' most glaring need was at the quarterback position. After two years of Favreapalooza/Favreageddon, it was time to go with somebody younger and try to let him play quarterback for this team for the next decade. Now, I was at a formal function on Thursday evening, and had no fewer than about half a dozen people texting me to let me know what was going on with the draft up to the Vikings' pick at #12. It's a strange position for the Vikings to be in. . .after all, in the 50+ years that this team has been drafting college players into the NFL, they had only drafted a quarterback in the first round two times prior to Thursday night (Tommy Kramer out of Rice in 1977, and Daunte Culpepper out of Central Florida in 1999). The last quarterback we took out of Florida State (Brad Johnson in the 9th round back in 1992) worked out alright for us, though.

I won't lie. . .I was surprised by the Christian Ponder pick, but by no means was I disappointed. There were quite a few mock drafts that had Ponder going in the mid to late-first round, due to there being a run on quarterbacks, and the Vikings weren't the only team in that range with a need at quarterback. From what I read after the draft, part of the reason that the Redskins traded down to #16 was because they thought they could still get Ponder at that spot, but the Vikings took him at #12 and ruined that idea.

(On a related note, the Redskins are apparently going to go with John Beck as their starting QB. Good luck with that.)

This might be the conspiracy theorist in me talking, but I think a lot of the reason that a lot of media types have been so hard on the Ponder pick has to do with the fact that. . .well, it's Minnesota. If the Vikings hadn't taken Ponder at 12, there's no way he would have been there at 43, and everybody that's killing the pick now would be saying, "Derrrrr, the Vikings should have taken a quarterback at 12 when they had a chance." It's just the way these things go with the Vikings.

(Full disclosure. . .prior to the draft, my personal preference for a quarterback to be drafted by the Vikings was Andy Dalton. But, Christian Ponder is a Viking and Dalton isn't, so to heck with that guy.)

But the more I read about Christian Ponder, and the more I hear from Ponder himself, the more I'm happy as heck to have this guy as our quarterback of the future. Obviously the man is incredibly bright and doesn't have any character issues that I'm aware of (and playing for a program as high profile as FSU, if he did have any, we'd certainly know about it). I think that of all the quarterbacks that went in the first two rounds of the draft, he's the most pro-ready. . .certainly more so than the three guys taken in front of him. An NFL playbook isn't going to be too much for him to digest and be ready to play football, and he appears to have everything that you'd like to have in a guy that might, potentially, have to step in right away.

I firmly believe that his potential pro readiness is a big reason why Minnesota took him as well. The Vikings have a new head coach in Leslie Frazier and a new offensive coordinator in Bill Musgrave. . .while many people might see this as a problem for a rookie quarterback, I see it as an opportunity. Rather than try to jam players into a system that they might not be equipped for (like our previous head coach, Brad Childress, attempted to do with pretty much everyone he drafted), Frazier and Musgrave seem determined to build their offense to suit their personnel.

They gave Ponder a neat new toy to play with when they drafted Kyle Rudolph in Round Two, they already have a good pass-catching tight end in Visanthe Shiancoe, their "Swiss Army Knife" in Percy Harvin. . .oh, and that Adrian Peterson fellow. I firmly expect the Vikings' offense to be built around a lot of two tight end sets and power running (similar to the Atlanta Falcons' offense, where Musgrave was a part of the coaching staff last year), and allowing Ponder to be able to use play action to keep defenses off balance so that he can find Harvin, Shiancoe, Rudolph, and (hopefully. . .fingers crossed) Sidney Rice.

So, that's my take on Ponder. With that, I'd like to ask all of you a few questions about your opinions on the Vikings' new quarterback of the future.

1) Do you think Ponder has what it takes to step in and be the Vikings' starter when the Vikings go to San Diego in Week 1? (Or, you know, whenever we start playing NFL games.)

2) What are your perceptions of Ponder's strengths and weaknesses? What kinds of things did he still struggle a bit with by the end of his Florida State career?

3) Should Viking fans be concerned about Ponder's injury history?

4) What are some of your favorite memories that Christian Ponder provided for you as a Florida State fan?

5) Has Ponder being drafted by Minnesota made you more apt to cheer for the Vikings (for those of you that follow the NFL)?

Thanks, folks. . .I really, really think that Christian Ponder is going to work out incredibly well for the Minnesota Vikings, and from what I've read here, it appears that a lot of you feel the same way. I'm looking forward to hearing what you all have to say about him.

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