Most draft observers considered the Vikings’ selection of quarterback Christian Ponder to be a reach, maybe even the biggest of round one. Few were more outspoken than ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer.
“Christian Ponder is Elvis Grbac,” Dilfer said after the pick was made. “… Elvis Grbac was a beautiful thrower. He threw for 4,000 yards. He did a lot of nice things.
“Every time it got tough, he melted.”
Dilfer claimed to have watched every snap Ponder took at Florida State. In Dilfer’s opinion, Ponder tanks under pressure, and is more workout wonder than franchise quarterback.
“The pocket has to be nice [for Ponder to excel],” Dilfer added. “Any time he’s asked to quicken that up or there’s people around him, his accuracy is awful. … He plays with a lot of anxiety. … Christian Ponder tests of the charts. He’s in shorts and a t-shirt. He goes to his pro workout, he’s in shorts and a t-shirt. His big pecs are hanging out. He’s got big guns.”
And Ponder was listening.
“I heard he was really railing on me,” the rookie told Jeremy Fowler of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. “It almost comes across as personal for some reason. I didn’t know he was doing medical tests at the Combine.”
Ponder already showed that he can overcome adversity by rebounding from a seemingly devastating Chick Fil-A Bowl game in which he went 1-for-5 for six yards and was yanked in favor of sophomore E.J. Manuel. (Supposedly due to a concussion.) Ponder’s agent, Jimmy Sexton, projected his client as no better than a third-round pick at the time.
Ponder went 12th overall.
Ideally, Ponder will use the criticisms of Dilfer and draftniks to fuel his fire. In Minnesota, he’s got a good chance at success with one of the NFL’s top running games to keep defenses at bay, and an impressive young cast of receivers and tight ends to throw to.