One of the biggest surprises in the first round of the 2011 draft came when the Vikings selected Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder with the 12th overall selection. With coach Leslie Frazier hoping to get Ponder ready to be the starter in Week One and with Ponder having no ability to work with Frazier or any of the other coaches while the lockout lingers, Ponder has been on his own, working out at the IMG facility in Florida, with former NFL quarterback Chris Weinke.
Ponder recently told Paul Allen and Paul Charchian of KFAN that the first-rounder will be wrapping up the sessions soon and making his way to Minnesota, in the hopes the lockout will be ending.
“I’m finishing up IMG [training] at the end of next week,” Ponder said. “They have a [rookie] symposium down here at IMG next week. That’s Tuesday and Wednesday, and I have to do some things for Gatorade down here [in Florida] on Thursday. I’m going to a family reunion just north of Nashville for a couple of days for the weekend of the 4th [of July] and then I have to go to Peyton Manning’s camp in Louisiana on the 7th and the 8th. After that, when I’m done being busy, I’m going to head up to Minnesota and find a place to live and kind of get settled. Hopefully, this lockout will be done and we’ll get started.”
When the lockout ends, the Vikings are expected to sign a veteran quarterback. Ponder understands that, but he also plans to compete to be the starter when the season begins.
“Obviously, I think everyone in my position would love to start Week One,” Ponder said. “It’s the competitor in me and something I’ve always dreamed of was starting in the NFL and I want to do it ASAP. But obviously there are some reasons behind bringing a guy in and obviously there’s some definite pros to it. If they still bring in a guy it’s going to be someone who knows what he’s doing. It will give me a lot to learn from and help me out. But at the same time, I want to definitely start Week One. We’ll see what happens and whatever happens I’ll be completely fine with it. I think the coaches are going to make the best decision for me personally.”
We’re not so sure about that. The coaches will be making the best decision for the team, in the hopes of competing in a suddenly strong NFC North. If that means parking Ponder on the bench for a year, so be it. If it means Ponder starting, so be it. With plenty of veteran quarterbacks available, either via free agency or trade, once the lockout ends, the Vikings could go in a lot of different directions. The overriding goal will be to maximize wins and minimize losses in 2011.