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2011 draft will be remembered for quarterback reaches

2011 NFL Scouting Combine - Day 2 Getty Images

It’s not Christian Ponder’s fault the Vikings took him too high.  It’s not Jake Locker’s fault that Vince Young’s tantrums and lockout uncertainty left the Titans desperate for a quarterback.

But life in the NFL isn’t always fair, and the NFL minted four new “franchise quarterbacks” in the top 12 picks on Thursday night that aren’t likely to be ready for the role.

Cam Newton, Blaine Gabbert, Locker, and Ponder will have to overcome a lot to become successful pros, starting with unfair expectations created because their teams reached too high to take them.

Newton has all the raw talent in the world, but the Panthers will have to be patient and build the team around his unique skills.  He’ll have to learn how to overcome adversity, but he’s the one guy in this group that would have gone high in any draft.

Locker is coming off a very disappointing senior season and faces serious questions about his accuracy.  The Titans chose him at No. 8 over Blaine Gabbert because Locker is such a good athlete and they love his intangibles.   Vince Young was also a better athlete than a passer.

Gabbert was hyped by the draftniks as a top-five quarterback because he looked the part despite a college career that didn’t blow anyone away.  He has plenty of talent and athleticism, but it’s worth noting the following quarterback needy teams passed on him: Buffalo, Cincinnati, Arizona, San Francisco, Tennessee, and finally Washington, who traded their No. 10 pick to Jacksonville.

(Consider it a red flag when Mike Shanahan has no legitimate quarterback and passes on a mobile one.)

Ponder, taken No. 12 overall by the Vikings, was the night’s biggest surprise.  Coming off an injury-plagued senior season without a great arm, Ponder doesn’t fit the profile of a top-15 pick.    Vikings fans certainly didn’t think so; they booed the selection at a team-sponsored draft party Thursday night.

“The thing we went back and forth on was, ‘When are you going to get another chance to swing?’ If Ponder was gone, would we get another opportunity to take a quarterback in this draft?” Vikings VP of Personnel Rick Spielman said. “We didn’t want to take that risk.”

Translation: We reached for him.

“Quarterback was a huge need for us,” Spielman said. “Everybody knows that.”

Spielman wasn’t alone, which made a lot of teams go nutty for an unremarkable quarterback class.  There were more teams than usual looking for starting quarterbacks, even before the lockout started.   The lack of free agency and trades before the draft compounded the problem, making teams anxious to fill their depth charts and sell their fanbases on new hope.

Four quarterbacks were taken in the top 12 this year, but this isn’t like when Eli Manning, Philip Rivers, and Ben Roethlisberger all went in the top 11 in 2004.  This fourpack of quarterbacks is a boom or bust group, and they are bound to get some decision makers fired.

We’re actually surprised that teams didn’t trade back into the end of the first round to grab TCU’s Andy Dalton or Arkansas’ Ryan Mallett. That means we could have another quarterback frenzy to start day two of the draft.

At least the cost Friday won’t be as high as it was for Newton, Locker, Gabbert, and Ponder.

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46 Responses to “2011 draft will be remembered for quarterback reaches”
  1. cytofed says: Apr 29, 2011 12:23 AM

    and it will also be known as the draft of Jamarcus Russell and Alex Smith 2.0..

  2. thephantomstranger says: Apr 29, 2011 12:30 AM

    Yes, the Vikings reached for Ponder and made a need pick rather than taking the best player available. Nevertheless, QB is the most important position and they wouldn’t have taken him if they didn’t think he was worth it. If he’s successful, he’ll be looked at as a great pick no matter where he was drafted.

  3. jebdamone says: Apr 29, 2011 12:33 AM

    vikings taking ponder at #12 with robert quinn and prince amakamura still on the board is rubbish. no way ponder, kaepernick, dalton and mallett are all gone at #43 and if the vikings really thought that was the case they should have sucked it up and worked their butts off to move up into the end of the first round or higher in the second. nothing personal against ponder and i hope he is the future of our franchise but i am terribly disappointing in this play.

  4. pu74y says: Apr 29, 2011 12:36 AM

    Yeah we’ll see who is a reach when Ponder is reaching for that Superbowl MVP trophy!

  5. calhounlambeau says: Apr 29, 2011 12:36 AM

    Honestly, what’s the big deal in reaching for a QB in this draft? There’s likely going to be a rookie salary structure, so you’re not going to be paying these guys out the bullhorn like in years past. Then the fact that it’s a pretty terrible draft. Who are these teams passing on? Ryan Kerrigan? Gabe Carimi? Purple Drank Jimmy? I mean come on, why not roll the dice this year of all years?

  6. philtration says: Apr 29, 2011 12:37 AM

    A stupid pick by the Vikings.
    I loved it.

  7. jjrs89 says: Apr 29, 2011 12:46 AM

    Not only is jake locker taking VYs job, he’ll be taking his number. 10. In the immortal words of rick james, cold bloodedddd

  8. 2dimesandanickelback says: Apr 29, 2011 12:52 AM

    I stopped reading after you said the vikings picked him at #13. Nice work Gregg.

  9. moneymike23 says: Apr 29, 2011 12:56 AM

    “Consider it a red flag when Mike Shanahan has no legitimate quarterback and passes on a mobile one.”

    hahaha, that’s just stupid! Shanahan is an overrated head coach.

  10. moneymike23 says: Apr 29, 2011 12:57 AM

    Vikings should warntheir drafted players not to buy house since they have 1 more year left.

  11. axltcu says: Apr 29, 2011 12:58 AM

    So who are the Pats gonna screw over with the 33rd to get Dalton/Kaepernick/Mallett?

  12. hobartbaker says: Apr 29, 2011 1:00 AM

    Gabbert wasn’t a reach at 10 overall. Virtually every big board had him around that spot overall. He was the top rated QB on all of them and the scout’s choice as the best QB prospect. None of the other QBs were rated higher than 20 overall (Newton) on the big boards. So they were huge reaches. But Gabbert doesn’t belong in the reach category.

  13. shaggytoodle says: Apr 29, 2011 1:04 AM

    they should have sucked it up and worked their butts off to move up into the end of the first round or higher in the second.
    __________________________

    If they had a 3rd round draft pick to use for ammo maybe they would have a chance to, but they chose to rent a has been WR for month instead.

    Drafted to high, soon to be paid to high, but as stated its not the players fault. Poor choices made the Vikings get backed into a corner, and it must have felt it was neccesary for them to make this move, but not too many critics think it was.

  14. pioliforprez says: Apr 29, 2011 1:10 AM

    bust-o-meter:

    Locker: moderate
    Ponder: mild
    Gabbert: low
    Newton: certainty

  15. undeadjesus says: Apr 29, 2011 1:14 AM

    If there’s any position where a reach is excusable, it’s QB. Childress completely wrecked the Vikings’ QB situation so a pick like this is necessary now. With Newton, Locker, and Gabbert gone, Ponder is the clear choice from the remaining guys.

  16. CKL says: Apr 29, 2011 1:31 AM

    Sigh…I was adamant in another post yesterday that Locker NOT get overdrafted since that would be horrible for his career. And to boot, they may expect him to start right away on a not so hot team.
    Hurney and Richardson have lost their damn minds though. That pick marked the end of the “we draft good character guys” mindset. Or maybe it was the Clausen pick that did that.
    I hope Matt Moore goes somewhere like AZ and gets a chance to compete for a starting job again.

  17. purplereign28 says: Apr 29, 2011 1:35 AM

    @jebdamone: dude the Vikings have no need at DE, I love Robert Quinn, but that would be waaay more of a wasted pick than a reach for a QB. We signed Robison to a 3-year $14.1 Million contract, you think they’re gonna pay him that much and go with a rookie? And if things turn out right, the Vikings will keep Ray Edwards as a Restricted Free Agent. DE would’ve been a total waste, that’s why all of these “expert” mock drafts have been pissing me off. I’ll give it too you, Prince is great, but he doesn’t play well in a cover 2 zone (the Vikings run a Tampa-Two). He’s fantastic in press coverage, but the Vikings don’t do much of that. I love Prince as a player, but the more I think about it, the worse a fit he was for the Vikes. Detroit dropped the ball in not taking him. Ponder, as much of a reach as he is, is a great fit for the Vikings. He’s the prototypical West Coast QB. New Offensive Coordinator Bill Musgrave is a west coast guy, look what he did with Matt Ryan in Atlanta. Ponder is Accurate, athletic, tough, and unbelievable smart. He scored a 43 on the Wonderlich test and was the only active college QB to have earned an MBA. Tell me that doesn’t sound like a franchise QB.

  18. bigtrav425 says: Apr 29, 2011 1:49 AM

    it can also be known as the WTF draft….especially for the Browns and Browns fans….luckily i was at work but at the same time when i heard who we drafted i wanted to immediately leave and hit the Tequila

  19. gxray says: Apr 29, 2011 2:06 AM

    Newton, Locker, and Ponder were all reaches IMO. But Blaine Gabbert has always been highly rated and at #10 was a decent pick and about where he should have been. Don’t really know why you included him in this list except to make a story out of nothing.

  20. Mr. Everyday says: Apr 29, 2011 2:23 AM

    Ponder was taken 12th, not 13th.

    Rumor has it that Shanahan really liked Ponder and figured he could still get him at 16.

  21. andyreidisfat says: Apr 29, 2011 3:24 AM

    I know i am in the minority here but IMO Ponder is going to be a nice game manager in the NFl. If he is only asked to do that and they run the heck out of the ball and play good defense then the Vikings may have gotten the guy who will be ready the fastest. Ponder is already by far the best QB they have.

    My biggest problem is I think Ponder isn’t better than the Redhead or Mallett (mark my words Mallett is the best QB in this draft 5 years from now) and even though i think he fits the personal the Vikings have I think his noodle arm just hammered the nail in the coffin of Rice being a viking next year. Rice is a big play down the field guy and will not want to play with a guy who throws lob passes that can’t even go 40 yards down the field. I would love to see Rice go to St louis so we can see how good #8 really can be

  22. rcunningham says: Apr 29, 2011 3:47 AM

    As a Viking fan I’m used to bonehead decisions. Not saying Ponder will be a bust, just that we could have drafted a much better player then taken Ponder later, even traded down to get him if we needed to.

    Oh well, I’m excited to have the Vikings finally roll the dice with a QB in the first round. Nice to change a pace to see a guy we drafted in the 1st under center rather than another vet.

  23. saxmachine69 says: Apr 29, 2011 4:19 AM

    I said it a long time ago, and I’ll say it again, Ponder will be the best QB from this draft class. So pumped the Vikings took him. You can complain about the value that the “experts” gave him all you want, draft grades aren’t decided by the fat guys sitting behind a desk, writing articles like they know what’s what. They’re decided 3 or 4 years after the draft, when you can look back and actually evaluate the players. Bottom line, if Ponder succeeds, the draft boards and mock drafts are meaningless.

  24. mpelt says: Apr 29, 2011 4:36 AM

    I see all these people saying reach this reach that. I may have been more happy with the Vikings taking Prince. My main thing is, guys like Favre and Brady were taken late in drafts. I don’t think people thought Big Ben was going to step in and immediately contend. QB’s are hit or miss. Leaf vs. Manning… I will wait to judge this pick. I think if the Vikings valued this guy right around Newton, Gabbert, Locker and then the rest were behind them. Then this is a good pick. You cannot play to next year. I am just really sick of Jeff George, Randall Cunningham, Warren Moon, Brett Favre even.. coming in here as that veteran bandaid. They needed a guy to come in and solidify the position for this franchise. I will hold out hope that Ponder will do that. If not I will Ponder this decision until the next time we take a QB.

  25. bammer1 says: Apr 29, 2011 7:15 AM

    i think the vikings made this pick in a hurry. I believe their time came and me as a vikings fan believe that they said okay trade trade trade but if we must take this ponder kid. I dont believe its the greatest pick but no one wanted to trade up. And i believe if and when fa starts the vikings gets a vet to come in and play the first few weeks and let the kid get to know the game the kid is smart and might be able to become a franchise qb. So i hope that we pick up vet qb to train ponder and although i dont like the draft pick at 12 really i believe it wasnt their first choice but no one wanted to trade.

  26. tombrookshire says: Apr 29, 2011 7:24 AM

    Wonder what the book said on Brady? Would be interesting to see where Mayock and co. had him and what was said about him. My guess would be very similar things, including, career backup, not a strong arm, poor mechanics, you know the usual crap. What this means is, the “experts” don’t really know how a guy will perform in the pros until he takes the field. Let’s wish them well and hope for success on their respective teams.

  27. calloustongue says: Apr 29, 2011 7:33 AM

    @mpelt

    Favre was the 33rd overall pick in ’91. That’s late? Then traded to GB for the 16th pick the next year. Don’t compare a rookie who has no where near the same arm strength or will to win as Favre. Favre had a great QB coach, a great head coach, and Sterling Sharpe to chuck it up to.

    It was a bad pick. Could have had Ponder in the 2nd round easily, and should have taken Mallett over him anyway.

    Thanks from a Packer fan though, it’s not like the Vikings needed DB help in a division with Cutler, Rodgers, and Stafford.

  28. philriverslovespenis says: Apr 29, 2011 7:44 AM

    I’m pretty sure NFL GMs have forgotten more about a player’s talent and the NFL draft than Gregg Rosenthal will ever know, so I’m gonna go ahead and go with their decisions for now. Also Gregg, why is it this site could do nothing but trash Shannahan about not being able to win without Elway when Wash was courting him, yet you note his “expertise” when trying to validate your point? Gms “reaching” with their picks is almost as bad as PFT “reaching” with virtually every story they write.

  29. bobbyhoying says: Apr 29, 2011 7:49 AM

    This must be killing Kevin Kolb. There is no way all four guys will be better than he is.

  30. JimmySmith says: Apr 29, 2011 7:58 AM

    In my book, the Ponder pick is pure karma. Back in 2007, Favre was having a hissy fit with the Packers and it was playing out every night on ESPN. The NFL had proof positive that Childress and Favre had direct phone conversations but lacked the balls to fine the Vikings for tampering.

    You know the rest of the story, Favre was shipped out of GB, faked another retirement to get out of his Jets contract and was free to sign with the Vikings, earn Childress a contract extension and then last year’s last place finish. The Vikings waste a 3rd round pick to please Favre and now reached for Ponder, all direct consequences of their ill fated tampering scheme. Like I said, pure karma.

  31. wtfru2 says: Apr 29, 2011 8:30 AM

    Good pick? Bad pick? Only time will tell…

    All I can say is in the short term, I know he’s smart, but with our offensive line, he’d better be fast too!

  32. bleedgreen says: Apr 29, 2011 8:44 AM

    tombrookshire says: Apr 29, 2011 7:24 AM

    Wonder what the book said on Brady? Would be interesting to see where Mayock and co. had him and what was said about him. My guess would be very similar things, including, career backup, not a strong arm, poor mechanics, you know the usual crap. What this means is, the “experts” don’t really know how a guy will perform in the pros until he takes the field. Let’s wish them well and hope for success on their respective teams.

    ———-

    Thats exactly what I said in the ‘Dalton a 4th round talent’. What did they say about Romo, Warner, Brady, Favre, Moon and heck, even Jake Delhomme? QB is the most ‘learned’ position. You need the physical tools, but lets be honest… if these guys didn’t have the physical tools they wouldn’t be playing in the NFL. They ALL have the physical tools. Its a matter of WANTING to learn to be a good QB and putting the work in. You can’t learn to be great, but you can learn to be good enough with enough work.

    Heck, even Drew Brees was the last pick of the 2nd round. If they want to put the work in, they can all be successful QBs in this league.

  33. whatswiththehate says: Apr 29, 2011 8:47 AM

    6921 i
    Rate This
    hobartbaker says:
    Apr 29, 2011 1:00 AM
    Gabbert wasn’t a reach at 10 overall. Virtually every big board had him around that spot overall. He was the top rated QB on all of them and the scout’s choice as the best QB prospect. None of the other QBs were rated higher than 20 overall (Newton) on the big boards. So they were huge reaches. But Gabbert doesn’t belong in the reach category.
    —————————–
    Wow…are you folks gullible. I really can’t believe you actually thought Blaine was the better QB. I guess the media can sell snow in the Summer-time to some of you.

    There was nothing about Blaine that spelt better than Cam, or Mallett or that much better than Jake. Do you really feel the elite media relentless attack on Mallett, and Cam was because of their so called off the field issues. Even the undermining of Jake’s game was telling

    This was my first draft experience and I called it. I was saying from the beginning that Blaine was a complete media hype and not very good one either cause it didn’t even feel like they were convince. That Jon Grudden CBS website interview was very telling.

    You keep forgetting that we are looking at these athletes through the prism of the media but the teams are looking at them personally. And when it was all said and done, it was the media who was feeding us how they wanted us to see Blaine and not what was really going.

    One can tell it was hype when they kept telling us how high Blaine was only to concede that he was falling in the end.

    And honestly, when I saw Jake leap-frog Blaine and Ponder went easily to the 12th pick, it was even more clearer that if the Jaguars didn’t swoop in and take Blaine, he might have free-fall down to where he rightfully belong in the late teens.

    As the say, some things that come out of the media is for entertainment purposes. To make it anymore than that is to your dismay.

  34. realitypolice says: Apr 29, 2011 8:54 AM

    Consider it a red flag when Mike Shanahan has no legitimate quarterback and passes on a mobile one.
    =============

    I would consider it a red flag- but not necessarily against Blaine Gabbert.

    Given the god awful way Shanny handled the Haynesworth and McNabb situations last year, this could be interpreted as one more red flag that Shanahan is suffering from early-onset dementia.

  35. 22deuce says: Apr 29, 2011 9:06 AM

    the vikes were obviously trying to trade down, but couldn’t find the right deal so they took their guy. plain and simple

  36. 22deuce says: Apr 29, 2011 9:08 AM

    they didn’t want to have to trade up. they need all their picks they have left to reload

  37. crimhollingsworth says: Apr 29, 2011 9:15 AM

    Ponder’s ceiling is below Stafford, Rodgers, and Cutler. If you’re in a division with those guys, why would you draft Ponder??? The nicest thing I heard about him is “Similar to Chad Pennington.” Thats not bad but if he’s a good “Game manager” he will be 4th best qb in the division for a long time.

  38. tombradyswig says: Apr 29, 2011 9:19 AM

    Vikings fans, thank Bert Favre for this!!!!!!!! He screwed you for yrs!!!!!!!
    lol

  39. oberron says: Apr 29, 2011 9:54 AM

    @whatswiththehate

    Either your name is some attempt at being ironical-like, or you’re a hypocrit as well as clueless. The media doesn’t scout players, scouts do. Members of the media speak to said talent evaluators when creating their opinions, but at the end of the day, it’s the talent evaluators who are making the picks, not the media. The fact that Gabbert slid has as much to do with the fact that every team that passed on him has holes all over their roster as it does to do with his actual value.

    Gene Smith has yet to bust on a pick because he only takes calculated risks and I can assure you that the Jaguars weren’t looking to Kiper or McShay for advise on who to take.

    If any of those other teams had taken Gabbert, his name would never have been mentioned in this post. The truth is, PFT has a well documented bias against the Jaguars, which is only further highlighted by including Blaine Gabbert in the “Reach” discussion.

  40. thephantomstranger says: Apr 29, 2011 10:46 AM

    Rick “Jon” Gosselin is supposed to be the greatest draft guru of all time and he had Ponder going 10th. From that perspective, he was a steal.

  41. purplereign28 says: Apr 29, 2011 11:24 AM

    JimmySmith: you are a douche bag. You’re like a damn broken record dude, find something else to talk about other than how “bad” the vikings are. Go outside and get some fresh air bro, I think all of the mold in your mom’s basement is getting to your head.

  42. philsimmsisadouche says: Apr 29, 2011 11:48 AM

    “Consider it a red flag when Mike Shanahan has no legitimate quarterback and passes on a mobile one.”

    I don’t know if you can use Shanny’s expertise or lack thereof as a barometer of QB skill. He also traded for a QB with diminished skills that didn’t fit his system last year and signed Jake Plummer, who was never the great QB Shanny made him out to be.
    (Not to mention that when Andy Reid, who actually has a track record for developing good QBs, lets his starter go in a trade to a team in the same division, the coach of that division team should have been smart enough to see that as a red flag.)
    Shanahan has won two Super Bowls, but they were with John Elway, a Hall of Famer that Shanahan didn’t draft.

  43. carlgerbschmidt says: Apr 29, 2011 12:34 PM

    thephantomstranger says:
    Apr 29, 2011 12:30 AM
    Yes, the Vikings reached for Ponder and made a need pick rather than taking the best player available. Nevertheless, QB is the most important position and they wouldn’t have taken him if they didn’t think he was worth it. If he’s successful, he’ll be looked at as a great pick no matter where he was drafted.
    ______
    Sure, if he’s successful. Of course, since he finished his undergrad in 1.5 years, MBA in 2.5 years, and is almost done with a Master’s – he is probably smart enough to figure out that he might want to limit his time spent behind that porous Minny offensive line if he wants to be able to recognize his grandchildren.

  44. truthserum4u says: Apr 29, 2011 12:49 PM

    JimmySmith says:
    Apr 29, 2011 7:58 AM

    The NFL had proof positive that Childress and Favre had direct phone conversations but lacked the balls to fine the Vikings for tampering.

    —————————————

    Ok Jimmeny, I’ve ignored your stupidity long enough and I’m finally going to take the bait.

    The league had proof that Favre had phone conversations with at least a quarter of the teams for the last decade; were they all guilty of tampering that entire time you moron?

    Plus, tell me this: Why would Childress try to convince Favre to come back and play when his Vikings constantly lost to the guy? Childress didn’t have access to the inner workings of the GB braintrust, so how would he know they wouldn’t welcome Favre back with open arms and that Favre would go on beating him like a drum? Did you ever stop to think about that Jimmeny? Did ya? Of course not, because you would need more than the two brain cells you currently possess.

    And for all of you who blame Favre for the Vikings’ QB quandry; exactly who did they pass over by signing him as a free agent? In fact, in the years following Culpepper’s departure, who have they passed on that would be even considered a good QB. Henne is about as good as it gets in that search.

  45. tjrubleysaudible says: Apr 29, 2011 10:19 PM

    andyreidisfat:

    I like Mallet best, too. He’s a lot sharper than most people seem to think. It’s just a gut feeling, I don’t know jack about football, I just love watching it. I saw this kid on Gruden’s show and there’s just something I like about him. Seems like a real competitor, and mentally tough.

    Like I said I don’t know anything, and I only saw him on a ~30 minute tv show. It’ll be fun to see what happens with this kid in the NFL. Who knows, maybe he just fades into obscurity.

  46. hijackthemic says: Apr 30, 2012 9:03 PM

    Marty! I’m from the future, and I’ve come back to ask who would have thought that red-headed freak would turn out to be the only one besides Cam Newton who would make it? Great Scott!

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