A good left tackle helps the offense all around, but it might be of the most help to a young quarterback who spent a good deal of his rookie season running for his life behind a leaky offensive line.
Christian Ponder had just such an experience in 2011, which is a big part of the reason why the Vikings selected Matt Kalil with the fourth overall pick of the draft. Solidifying Ponder’s blind side puts the quarterback in better position to succeed as he heads into his second year as a professional.
“It is huge,” Ponder said, via Tom Pelissero of ESPN 1500 Radio. “A lot of time last year, it didn’t necessarily have to do with the protection. A lot of times I wasn’t comfortable getting to my third, fourth reads, checking the ball down. Instead of just checking it down when a guy is wide open, I’d just run. That’s something I have to get away from. It’s easy to break the habit. It’s just going to make it so much better having full confidence in the protection. Offensive line is looking good. They got stacked up pretty quickly and they’ve got a lot of depth now. I’m excited about that as a quarterback.”
Kalil was the biggest get, but the Vikings did other work designed to help Ponder. They drafted USC fullback Rhett Ellison and Arkansas receivers Greg Childs and Jarius Wright in the fourth round to help build a deeper offense around the quarterback than they had last season. The group isn’t perfect, but it is better and Ponder’s play will have to reflect that to build confidence about his future.