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Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016

Vikings whiff on another 1st round

Saturday, April 30, 2011

This is not an indictment on Christian Ponder's ability or potential. He could have a great career, I hope he does. Ponder is the quarterback the Vikings selected with the 12th pick in Thursday's first round of the NFL draft. The Florida State product was selected much higher than anyone had projected, and made nearly all Vikings fans question the decision. Ponder himself didn't even think he would be taken in the first round, that's why he wasn't among the 25 prospects at Radio City Music Hall Thursday night to greet the commissioner.

While the Vikings certainly needed a quarterback, this was a reach. A big one. Minnesota doesn't have the kind of track record, based on the past two year's first-round picks, to make such a move. Certainly not when it comes to drafting quarterbacks. Rick Spielman, Vikings VP of Player Personnel, has overseen the last four drafts for the Vikings. Last year's draft was very questionable and let's not even go into fired-coach Brad Childress' draft-pick QB projects Tarvaris Jackson in 2006 and last year's Joe Webb. Now, more of the same with their number one pick in 2011. The ghost of Brad Childress in the Minnesota draft war room lives on.

Last year, instead of using their 30th pick, they traded it to the Lions, who immediately scooped up RB Jahvid Best. The rookie from Cal started 15 games for Detroit and contributed over 1,000 total yards and 6 TDs. The Vikings then used their two second-round picks on Chris Cook, a defensive back who didn't contribute anything, and Toby Gerhart, a running back. Gerhart compiled about 500 total yards and lost three fumbles. If they wanted a running back, why not take a much better one available when they had the chance?

Leslie Frazier, the Vikings head coach involved with his first draft at the helm, certainly hopes Ponder is going to pan out. The Vikings are desperate to move on from the Brett Favre Era, which turned so ugly near the end even the Metrodome didn't want to be part of it. They'll want to make Ponder the "long-term" solution to a Vikings' quarterback problem which has seen free agents and journeymen back-ups used as a patchwork solution. Ponder will be up against it if asked to start immediately, but may need to if Minnesota can't land Donovan McNabb. If so, prepare for a very long season, Viking fans. The offensive line was so porous last year "Ironman" Favre couldn't even stay healthy.

The Vikings also have a shortage of picks this year thanks to last year's move to re-acquire Randy Moss. With only two draft choices in the first three rounds, Minnesota must get value out of each pick. Something that isn't such a risk. The man to take was Nick Fairley, a defensive tackle from Auburn. Rated very highly by all scouts and experts, and could have filled a need on an aging, declining Minnesota defensive line. Of course, the Lions used the next pick to grab Fairley, who will now most likely pair with Ndamukong Suh and Northwest Iowa native Kyle Vanden Bosch to wreak havoc on the Vikings twice a year. Ponder better brace himself when those guys come for him. Lions head coach Jim Schwartz should address thank you cards to the Minnesota front office ASAP.

The Vikings have once again put themselves out there with a very "iffy" move during the first round of the draft. Questionable war room moves seem to be the norm in Minnesota but maybe the front office and coaches know more than everybody else. Recent history suggests otherwise.

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I'll reveal my bias at the outset and say I'm a Vikings fan, so obviously my comment can be taken with a grain of salt.

At the same time, I think I can be pretty objective about draft picks or most anything else relating to my team, and your analysis here is just off to me for several reasons:

1) Joe Webb was drafted to be a receiver, was transitioned into a possible QB, and might still be a receiver. There was nothing bad about that pick in round 6. Spielman and Frazier did not pick Tarvaris Jackson in 2006, so bringing that up is quite irrelevant.

2) Chris Cook was injured basically all of last year--the fact that you don't mention that is, to put it mildly, problematic. He looked terrific in camp and pre-season and was injured around that time--to say that he "didn't contribute anything" and leave it there does not reflect reality.

3) The Vikings were never going to draft Jahvid Best for reasons that should be incredibly obvious. Gerhart was not such a crazy pick and any Vikings follower could tell you he looked much better the last few weeks of last season.

4) Ponder was a bit of reach--everyone knows that. Someone like Fairley would not have been. Organizationally-wise though, the Vikes had to come away with a decent QB pick. That was not going to happen in the first round, and Ponder was obviously their top guy at the position given who was available. It was not a "value" pick, but for the Vikings I think it was the right one. We'll see what happens.

5) "Recent history" is perhaps a bad point of reference for your evaluation, particularly when you don't understand some of the basic dynamics with respect to recent picks (as described above). Childress is gone and that matters quite a lot.

-- Posted by gsj2001 on Sat, Apr 30, 2011, at 4:13 AM

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Zach Jevne
Real Sports Talk
Zach joined the Daily Reporter staff as sports editor in March 2011. He is originally from Decorah, Iowa. He played baseball at University of Northern Iowa and studied multimedia journalism at Simpson College.