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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Christian Ponder Scouting Report

Christian Ponder, QB, Florida State, 6’2 229 lbs

Ponder has a lot to smile about, regarding the NFL Draft

Strengths: If there was an award for the player with the best Pre-Draft season, then Christian Ponder without a doubt would win. After a season riddled with injuries and seeing his draft stock fall significantly, Christian Ponder showed scouts he still belonged among the top quarterbacks in the 2011 draft. Ponder was the MVP of the Senior Bowl following his strong week of practice, and from all accounts of scouts on field at the combine, was the best thrower in Lucas Dome Field in Indianapolis.

Questions about the health of his arm have been answered by these performances, and Ponder has great momentum heading into his pro day and team interviews.

Ponder’s football IQ is one of his greatest strengths. Playing in Jimbo Fisher’s pro style offense, Ponder was required to make NFL reads and go through a passing progression. His anticipation of throws and poise to allow routes develop as the pocket collapses, are the two things that really stand out with Ponder. I don’t want to mislead anyone because while this is a strength for Ponder, his decision making in 2010 was troubling.

The footwork of Ponder is much more polished than any of the other top 5 quarterbacks, and his excellent 3 step drops make him the perfect WCO QB (“West Coast Offense quarterback). He maintains excellent footwork and composure as the pocket collapses and keeps his eyes downfield. Ponder’s smooth release, tight spiral, and accurate ball placement attest to his solid fundamentals. Christian Ponder has a refined throwing motion for a college QB and generally does a good job of transferring his weight from front to back.

Christian Ponder also has mobility to escape the pocket and pick up yards on the ground. A tough ball player who takes hits, gets up, and makes plays.


Ponder is a prototypical WCO QB
Weaknesses: Ponder lacks elite zip on the ball, and his arm strength is not impressive. I will say that he has a “live arm” and is perfect in a West Coast Offense, but I think that he is limited scheme wise. Not to confuse with his quick release, Ponder’s ball doesn’t fire out with a ton of velocity.

Some of the problems arise when Ponder over-strides. The over-striding in intermediate to deep throws causes the ball to sail, and in the NFL those footballs will be intercepted. Will get bouncy at the end of his drops, and his 5 step drop has room for improvement.

Gunslinger mentality can be a positive and negative attribute, and Ponder will force throws that are really unnecessary. He cut down on the touchdown to interception ratio from 2009 to 2010, but still increased his interception total by 1 despite throwing fewer passes in 2010.

Best Fit:  As stated throughout, Ponder would excel in the NFL in a West coast styled offense. His quick release, solid mechanics, and excellent anticipation and footwork in 3-step passing game suit him tremendously well for a WCO.

Jacksonville, Cincinnati, Seattle, and Washington all have west coast style offenses complimentary to Ponder’s skill set; however the best fit I see is with San Francisco 49ers. To me, Ponder is a strong fit in any WCO system.

X-Factor: As I stated with Mallett, the CBA deal will have a lot to do with the quarterback’s draft stock. If teams can’t sign players or trade, then Ponder could go in round 1. That being said, health issues have to be answered and if those are not, then he could fall considerably. I feel he has put those concerns aside and now Ponder fights an uphill battle against more than a handful of first round talents on the d-line.

Where will he be drafted: Second Round

Where should he be drafted: Second Round

NFL Comparison: Matt Hasselback, QB, Seattle Seahawks

Christian Ponder 2009 highlights

Ponder vs. Samford 2010

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