Using last year’s first-round draft pick on Christian Ponder was a sign that the Vikings believed in him as their franchise quarterback for years to come. Using this year’s first-round draft pick on Matt Kalil was a sign that the Vikings wanted to keep Ponder upright for years to come.
That’s how Ponder views it: He told Andrew Siciliano on NFL Network’s Total Access that he could see himself growing old in the NFL with Kalil as his left tackle.
“I haven’t stopped smiling since that Thursday night of the draft,” Ponder said. “I’m definitely excited that we picked up Matt and he’s already impressed me. He’s come into these OTAs and he’s working hard. He’s a big guy, he’s really athletic and he’s going to do a great job. Obviously he did really well at USC and he’s going to continue that and be really good in the NFL. Hopefully we have 10-15 years together with the Vikings.”
Ponder said he knows that with the Packers, Lions and Bears all in the same division, almost everyone is picking the Vikings to finish last in the NFC North. But Ponder says the Vikings will surprise people.
“A lot of us, myself as well, kind of like the underdog role,” Ponder said. “We’re going into the season, a lot of people don’t have too high expectations for us. We know internally that we really have high expectations for ourselves. We know the talent we have on this team, we have the right pieces coming together and we’re working hard in OTAs to get better for next year. It is a tough division, we have to be competitive, there are going to be a lot of tough games every week but it’s going to make our team better. We’re trying to make it to the playoffs.”
Making the playoffs this year will be a long shot, but if Ponder and Kalil are as good as the Vikings think they’ll be, Minnesota has the nucleus in place for a team that should make the playoffs many times in the years ahead.