6 Senior Bowl QBs in 6 days: Christian Ponder

Christian Ponder has a solid off-the-field background, but his injury concerns and a dip in production in 2010 will have to be overcome in the coming months if he wants to rank among the top quarterbacks entering the 2011 draft. Here is the fifth of six Senior Bowl quarterback previews as the Vikings continue their search.


Editor's note: VikingUpdate.com is evaluating the six Senior Bowl quarterbacks at practices next week and conducting interviews with them during the week. This is the fifth preview of in a six-part series looking at the Senior Bowl quarterbacks.

An anecdote in the Orlando Sentinel might be all you need to know about the prospects of Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder: His father, David, was relieved to find out that an injury to Christian in the Chick-fil-A Bowl was a "mild concussion" and not yet another arm or shoulder injury.

It would only be natural for Ponder observers to assume that any hit to the upper body could result in an arm or shoulder injury after the otherwise intriguing prospect has had two surgeries on his throwing arm in the last year.

His 2009 season ended prematurely because of a separated right (throwing) shoulder and he missed two more games in 2010.

Ponder finished his career ranking among the top five Florida State quarterbacks in virtually every career statistical category. By the time his Seminoles career was done, he completed 61.8 percent of his passes and threw 49 touchdowns and 30 interceptions.

He might have to prove that a dip in his statistics in 2010 isn't the result of lingering/post-surgery concerns. His curtailed 2009 season indicated he could be on his way to a breakout season and considered among the elite college passers. He completed 68.8 percent of his passes for 2,717 yards, 14 touchdowns and seven interceptions before his shoulder injury.

But in 2010, his attempts (299), completions (184), completion percentage (61.5), yards (2,044) and average gain per pass (6.8) were all lower than his junior season.

If it weren't for his arm issues, Ponder might be considered among some of the other top-ranked quarterbacks. The extensive medical exams at the NFL Scouting Combine will give Ponder the opportunity to show NFL personnel where his arm (and any other ailing body part) is at in recovering from injury, but next week's Senior Bowl will give him an opportunity to show off his accuracy, his pocket presence and his ability to adapt to a pro-style offense.

He already showed he has the intelligence off the field. He earned his undergraduate degree in finance in 2½ years and was the only FBS player in the country to have an MBA during his final season of eligibility. His accomplishments in the classroom helped him earn the Bobby Bowden Award from the Fellowship of Christian Athletes for accomplishments in the classroom, on the field and in the community. He was also honored with the Danny Wuerffel Trophy for similar qualities and was selected to the Allstate AFCA Good Works team.

He also won the National Football Foundation's Scholar-Athlete Award in December, an honor that includes a postgraduate scholarship worth $18,000.

All of that provides a picture of a solid person off the field. Next week in Mobile, Ponder will try to paint a similarly rosy picture of his abilities on the field, and plenty of Vikings personnel will be there watching.


Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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