Christian Ponder isn’t a high draft pick

Let me qualify the title a bit better – I wouldn’t draft Christian Ponder (QB, FSU) in the first four rounds. In the 5-7 range I’d feel comfortable bringing him in, letting him learn the ropes and one day maybe being a solid backup. However, forget any talk of him going in round one or two. It isn’t going to happen. His performance against Oklahoma wasn’t a one off, Ponder was truly horrendous against Boston College today. He was completely bailed out by FSU’s defense and running game in a 24-19 win.

He went 19/31 passing for 170 yards, two touchdowns and three picks. A fourth pick (returned for a TD) was called back for a defensive lineman having his big toe in the neutral zone. Ponder has only passed for more than 200 yards once this season – during a 31-0 blow out against 2-5 Wake Forest. That’s SIX games where he’s not put up 200. A 243 yard, 2 score game against Wake Forest is hardly an eye catcher either. He’s on pace for a tight 2034 yards for the season, which isn’t enough.

Physically he’s left wanting and his decision making isn’t great either. Against BC he consistently failed to put velocity on any of his throws – short, medium or long range. A lofted deep ball down the right against single coverage? Floats it up for grabs. He hasn’t got a big arm so that’s understandable to an extent, if not what you necessarily want to see. But if you haven’t got the physical tools to be a difference maker then you have to be accurate and make good decisions. You simply cannot – like Ponder did today – toss little floaty slants over and over again that are just begging to be intercepted. It was bad enough after Ponder’s second interception – a careless short slant with the CB well placed to make the pick. He never learnt from that mistake and just kept throwing it out there with a definite ‘come and get me’ plea to any watching defensive back. A second pick was inevitable – it happened eventually, this time for a touchdown.

There are fundemental errors when Ponder throws his short slant. One – he doesn’t get it out of his hands with anywhere near enough juice. It needs to be a quick snap to the receiver, not a loose floated delivery two yards in front of the LOS because it will nearly always lead to the play being broken up or at worst – an interception return. Secondly – he needs to make a better judgement of the coverage and try to understand when to call off that throw and look for another target. A number of times he’d take a three step drop and without even looking elsewhere fire to his hot read. The result? His second interception and numerous other busted plays.

The ball not only doesn’t come out with enough velocity, it’s often a loose spiral too. The case in point – an easy throw down the right to one of his receivers who had done a good job settling in between two defensive backs. The throw comes out wobbling all over the place and forces the WR to bobble the ball as he catches it. His initial step is in the field of play, but because it’s such a difficult pass to grab he ends up juggling it and a solid first down in the red zone is a third down back near the 40. He also forces a lot of throws -as emphasised by the third pick, always sticking to one receiver and trying to fit into an ultra tight window despite the massive frame of Mark Herzlich blocking the way. It wasn’t an isolated incident, too often his throws were really forced.

There’s a lot of talk about Ponder’s athleticism, but he was a non factor in the running game and he’s not going to worry anyone in the NFL with his legs. He had -5 rushing yards from eight attempts and a long of nine yards. Ponder can move around a bit in the pocket, but that’s the extent of his abilities.

Neither physically great or accurate enough, it’s stunning to see some people still ranking him amongst the top forty picks for next year’s draft. Not happening.

I’ll have reaction to the other games on my weekend schedule by tomorrow after I’ve watched all of the tape, including thoughts on Anthony Castonzo (OT, Boston College) from this game.


  1. john_s

    can you comment on the BC corner, #4 as well. I forgot his name but he played a whale of a game.

    What are your thoughts on Greg Childs from Arkansas?

    • Rob

      I’ll have a look at the CB. Childs barely featured last time I watched Arkansas. I’m going to watch the tape vs Auburn and I’ll watch him closely.

  2. 1sthill

    Before this weekend I thought Ponder could be a good option for the Seahawks in the 2nd round. But, now I wouldn’t touch him in the first three rounds of the draft. If we can’t get Locker, Luck, or Cameron Newton in the 1st round, then I would like the Seahawks use a mid-round pick on TCU QB Andy Dalton. Dalton does not have a big arm & isn’t the bigget guy at 6-3 215 lbs, but he is a good athelte for a QB, shows good touch on his passes, with pretty good acuracy/hitting his WR’s in stride.

    • Rob

      Not a fan of Dalton at the next level personally, not sure he’ll get drafted. Just seems really eratic and he let’s errors get to him too much. A lot of his effectiveness is having that ability to use a QB draw in CFB that he won’t be able to do in the NFL. Overall it’s a similar story at QB – one or two ‘big names’ at the top of round one and not a lot else. Blaine Gabbert might be one to watch between now and the end of the season. For me, the Seahawks are probably going to have to make a big move to get up for Locker or Luck – it might have to be done. The team needs a direction at QB.

  3. Matt

    Hass played pretty well today, but I think that’s the “best” we can expect from him from here on out. We really need to get our QB for the future in this draft and I’d love for it to be Jake Locker. Sadly, if he keeps putting on performances like USC/OSU, there’s no chance he gets out of the top 5. Too much potential to pass up. Not to mention, scouts/GMs can see week in/week out, what he is capable of being on the less talented team with little protection from his O-line. It’s almost a perfect storm for Buffalo who can see how Locker can translate to their team (ie cold weather, poor support, tough division).

    • Rob

      Hass was better but as you say Matt, that’s the peak we can hope for now. He made some very good passes but it was hit and miss, there were a few bad ones there too. Personally, I think he needs to move away from the continuos looks to John Carlson. There’s clearly a determination on Matt’s behalf to get Carlson involved – lots of targets. Carlson just isn’t anywhere near reliable enough and for me, has actually been a disappointment. He gets a very good press. A great win today but Chicago’s offense was a complete car crash.

      Locker deserves praise for the way he hit back after Nebraska. It’s a good fit in Buffalo in terms of their offense, the situation and the physical qualities. If the Seahawks want a chance at a guy like that, they have to make a blockbuster deal – perhaps even if they end up picking in the top-15. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Seahawks didn’t make a statement move next April. If you need a QB and you see the one you want – you do what it takes to get him, not sit tight and draft a different position all together. The Jets showed you can get a deal done (Sanchez) without blowing numerous first rounders. Could be an interesting day in April next year.

  4. 1sthill

    Rob, as far as the Seahawks possibly needing to making a big move to move up in the draft to get Locker or Luck, what do you think of using Aaron Curry as trade bait? For the past two games Curry has been just a two down LB. Will Herring is getting more reps than Curry at LB (Herring was on the field in our nickle defense while Curry is sitting on the sideline), which seems pretty crazy considering Curry was suppose to be the most complete/best LB to enter in the last couple of years. At the start of the season Curry was getting a lot of reps at DE when the Seahawks were in the nickle defense, now thats no longer the case (he had 3 or 4 reps at DE today). While Curry had a sack today, it was because we were blitzing with 6 players and Curry was left unblocked. Curry may have more value to us as a potential piece of a package to move up in the draft, I’m sure a lot of other teams would like to have a guy with his size and speed.

    • Rob

      I think it’ll be impossible to trade Curry. For starters, his contract is huge and teams don’t generally take on a salary like that. Secondly, teams likely to picking early like Buffalo use a 3-4 defense and for me Curry doesn’t fit that scheme (KC agreed, which is why they drafted Tyson Jackson instead). Thirdly – Curry’s stock is pretty low right now. It’s like trying to sell Larry Fitzgerald in a fantasy league right now – his stock is very low. I think Aaron Curry is a fantastic human being, but the Seahawks made a huge error on that pick. The only way he’ll ever be able to be traded (and I can envisage this situation in the future) would be to get near the end of his contract, do a deal that voids the rest and makes it a 1-year deal and then a team may be willing to take it on. Right now, we’re stuck with a huge investment in a guy that isn’t producing a level of performance to match. Lest we forget, this is a guy who was given a third round grade by the draft committee after his junior season and totalled only nine sacks in four years at WF. I never thought he was worth the #4 pick.

      If the Seahawks want to trade up for a Locker/Luck, they can do it but they’ll need to be creative. NYJ traded up for Mark Sanchez, but found a partner (Cleveland) who had just appointed the Jets’ old coach and he was happy to take his old players and knock value off the pick return. Not sure the Seahawks will get a deal like that. But if the QB you have to draft is sitting right there, I’m not sure you don’t say… ok… two first rounders let’s talk. You can always trade back into round one in 2012, you can’t always get the quarterback who leads your team for the next 10-12 years.

      Lot of football to play yet though, for Seattle and the college prospects.

  5. akki

    I didn’t see the game, but Ponder’s injured elbow may have had to do with the poor pass velocity and poor spirals. He claims it didn’t affect him, but who knows? That’s still a problem, if a minor injury drastically affects the results – kind of like Hasselbeck’s complete lack of arm strength when he had his back injury. Also, BC is pretty lousy this year, especially on defense. I can’t disagree with ranking Ponder outside the first round.

    Odd thing about arm strength – Hasselbeck is described as having “only average arm strength” yet I figure nobody can name 5-10 starting qbs in the NFL with weaker arms. So average arm in a scouting report seems to translate into weak arm for a starter.

    Re: “He had -5 rushing yards from eight attempts and a long of nine yards”
    That’s not wholly a fair representation considering that in college, sacks are counted as negative rushing yards. Against ASU, Locker had 11 rushes for 6 yards, helped by 3 sacks. Locker looks less effective rushing than Luck does in terms of yard per carry because he gets sacked more. And if you looked at Clausen’s college rushing stats, you’d swear he was trying to score on the wrong end zone.

    • Rob

      Yeah I’m aware of the sack stat rules going against QB’s and wouldn’t have mentioned it if that was the case. However, Ponder’s number was called in the running game and he just didn’t get anywhere. I’m not even sure he was sacked in the game – maybe only once. One play in particular stood out – designed to get Ponder out to the left and it was a complete non-starter and he took a hit for the loss.

  6. jim

    Looks like Ponder was dealing with the injury bug in this game. I guess you were very wrong about your prediction of his draft status. Not saying he will be any good in the NFL, just saying that your prediction of his draft status was as lame as Ponder’s play in the boston game.

    • Rob

      My projection was he isn’t a first round pick. I guarantee that a lot of NFL teams agree with me on that, more so than agreed with the Minnesota Vikings’ decision.

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