All the talk for the Vikings centers on their desire to draft a quarterback early, but what if their first-round opportunities don't present?
There are other positions offering strong values with the team's No. 12 overall pick and they could opt to trade back in the first round and acquire an additional pick in the second or third day of the draft.
One of the quarterback options that could be there in second round is Florida State product Christian Ponder, whose career and draft stock tumbled over the last two years because of injuries.
Ponder interviewed with new Vikings offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave at the Senior Bowl, called it "a great opportunity for me" and said they had a good talk. Ponder's first goal since ending the college season, he said, was getting healthy.
He ended up being the MVP of the Senior Bowl after showing his shoulder and arm injuries were healed.
"I really think I'm the whole package at quarterback. I have great accuracy and can make all the throws," he said at the NFL Scouting Combine. "Intelligence is a huge advantage for me, being able to comprehend offenses and defenses. We ran a complex offense at Florida State and I think it will carry over well to the NFL. I'm athletic enough to move in the pocket and make plays with my feet."
While injuries sidelined him for parts of his junior and senior years, he started 24 games during his career, completing 596 of 965 passes (61.8 percent) for 6,872 yards, 49 touchdowns and 30 interceptions. He also added 833 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns on 296 carries.
Although Ponder can offer some athleticism at the position, he is one of the few prospects with draft grades in the first two rounds that runs what could be considered close to a pro-style offense.
"We ran multiple formations at Florida State, and had tons of different pass protections. I did a lot of checking at the line," he said. "Just talking to scouts already I've learned a lot of stuff they do we've already been doing at Florida State. I think it's a huge advantage for me.
"There is different terminology but we ran some of the same concepts, with the run checks. A lot of it really transfers over and I was surprised by that fact."
While game tape still dictates the majority of the draft grade teams place on players, the Combine was especially important for Ponder. Beyond making a late decision to throw there, he also needed to receive a good medical evaluation. After spending three hours with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tests, he said everything checked out fine, including the elbow injury that gave him so much trouble during his senior season.
"I got hit in the sixth game of the year (against the Hurricanes) and the fascia, which is the connecting tissue between your skin and your muscle got separated from my muscle and a little pocket formed," he said. "Every time I landed on it fluid would build up. I'd get it drained once a week and the next game I'd land on it again. Throughout that whole process scar tissue had built up and that was what was impeding it from healing. They went in and cut out all the scar tissue and did some other stuff to heal it. Now it's fine."
Ponder said scouts are watching his junior film as well (when he was named all All-ACC for the second time) and he is hoping to use the entire predraft span to show scouts more about him.
While injury questions are prevalent regarding Ponder, there isn't much debating his intelligence, at least in the classroom. He graduated from Florida State with a Bachelor of Science in Finance in 2½ years and completed his Master's degree last year, compiling at a 3.7 grade-point average while earning several academic honors.
Ponder is also considered a good fit for the West Coast offense, which the Vikings will implement into their offense in 2011.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
A later quarterback to Ponder
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