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Continued: Vikings pick: Prize or surprise?

  • Article by: JUDD ZULGAD , Star Tribune
  • Last update: April 30, 2011 - 6:44 AM

Rick Spielman called the Vikings' decision to take Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder with the 12th selection in the first round of Thursday's NFL draft "a no-brainer."

The fans at the team's draft party in the Winter Park fieldhouse who chanted for the Vikings to take Nebraska cornerback Prince Amakumara, and then voiced their displeasure with Spielman as he took the stage after the Ponder selection, didn't seem to agree.

Those people, however, shouldn't have been surprised Ponder became only the third quarterback to be taken in the first round in the franchise's 51-year history, joining Tommy Kramer (1977) and Daunte Culpepper (1999).

"Quarterback was a huge need for us, everybody knows that," said Spielman, the Vikings vice president of player personnel.

The organization is banking on Ponder being the long-term solution for a position at which it has used a revolving door of veterans in recent years. Ponder had a 22-13 record as a starter in four seasons at Florida State and is known for his intelligence -- he earned his undergraduate degree in 2.5 years and obtained his master's degree before his senior season -- but also for being somewhat injury prone.

Ponder said the expectations he will face won't impact him.

"I've dealt with being the face of Florida State and handling the pressure there," he said. "Obviously, it's a whole 'nother level in the NFL, but I don't think anyone puts as much pressure on me as I will myself. No one's expectations exceed mine."

While the Vikings could attempt to sign a veteran free agent to play in front of Ponder for a season, there is also is the chance he will step in as the team's starter. Coach Leslie Frazier said Ponder will be competing with Joe Webb and Rhett Bomar for the job, but that's a bit hard to believe.

"I want it to still be an open competition with the guys that are on our roster," Frazier said. "It will be those three. What happens with free agency? Who knows? We'll eventually get to that point. But right now it's a competition between those three and we'll line up with the best guy when we get ready to line up against the Chargers [on Sept. 11 in the regular-season opener]."

The Vikings did little to hide the fact that they spent countless hours in their pre-draft preparations vetting just about every quarterback in this draft. Frazier made it clear from the outset that his ideal scenario would be to draft a quarterback and develop that player.

Spielman defended selecting Ponder at 12, saying it wasn't a reach to take a quarterback who spent five seasons at Florida State (he redshirted in 2006) and started the final three.

"Not on our board," Spielman said. "We felt very confident where we graded him."

The Vikings might have been pleased with getting Ponder, but they nearly had a shot at the guy rated by some analysts as the top quarterback in the draft. Missouri's Blaine Gabbert fell all the way to 10 before Jacksonville sent its first- and second-round picks to Washington to move up six spots.

Spielman acknowledged there was talk of trying to made a trade with Dallas to move up to the ninth pick and get Gabbert.

"I know Jacksonville ended up giving a one and a second-round pick for Blaine," Spielman said. "We weren't going to be able to do that."

That is in large part because the Vikings don't have a third-round pick, having traded it to New England last year in the deal for Randy Moss.

The Vikings only have one pick (43rd overall) in Friday night's second and third rounds.

Ponder was the fourth quarterback to be taken, following Cam Newton (No. 1 to Carolina), Jake Locker (No. 8 to Tennessee) and Gabbert.

Ponder, who will be introduced this afternoon at a news conference at Winter Park, spoke to the Twin Cities media Thursday on a conference call. He had been invited to the draft in New York but did not attend because he wasn't sure he would be selected in the opening round.

"I heard [I could go] basically from the No. 8 pick to the middle of the second," Ponder said. "I really had no idea. I'm just happy it worked out this way."

Ponder impressed Spielman, Frazier, new offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave and quarterbacks coach Craig Johnson when they spent a day and a half with him last month at a private workout in Tallahassee, Fla.

Spielman also said team doctors put to rest any fears about Ponder's injuries, which included a third-degree separation of his throwing (right) shoulder in 2009 that required season-ending surgery.

Last season, he threw for 2,044 yards with 20 touchdowns and eight interceptions despite having issues with a bruised triceps and then suffering a ruptured bursa sac and concussion. The bursa sac required repeated draining and eventually surgery.

He said much of his pre-draft workouts focused on showing teams that his arm is fine.

"My health was what guys were worried about," Ponder said. "I think I was mislabeled as injury prone. ... Once the season was done, going into the Senior Bowl and the combine and the private workouts and Pro Day, I knew I had to show that I was healthy and my arm was back and I was fine."

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Minnesota 16 FINAL
Buffalo 17
Atlanta 7 FINAL
Baltimore 29
Tennessee 17 FINAL
Washington 19
Seattle 26 FINAL
St. Louis 28
Cleveland 6 FINAL
Jacksonville 24
Cincinnati 0 FINAL
Indianapolis 27
Miami 27 FINAL
Chicago 14
New Orleans 23 FINAL
Detroit 24
Carolina 17 FINAL
Green Bay 38
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San Diego 20
Arizona 24 FINAL
Oakland 13
NY Giants 21 FINAL
Dallas 31
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Denver 42
Houston 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Denver
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
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Minnesota 112 FINAL
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Chicago 101
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LA Lakers 98
Minnesota 1 FINAL
Los Angeles 2
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NY Rangers 4
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Winnipeg 1
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Anaheim 3
TX-San Antonio 20 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 27
Syracuse 30 FINAL
Wake Forest 7
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Minnesota 39
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Fla Atlantic 45
(12) Baylor 27 FINAL
(22) West Virginia 41
(11) Kansas State 31 FINAL
(17) Oklahoma 30
Iowa 31 FINAL
Maryland 38
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UCF 20
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Duke 20
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Ohio U 23
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Massachusetts 36
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(25) UCLA 36 FINAL
California 34
Texas A&M 0 FINAL
(4) Alabama 59
Army 17 FINAL
Kent State 39
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Texas Tech 34
UAB 22 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 34
Rutgers 17 FINAL
(13) Ohio State 56
(8) Michigan State 56 FINAL
Indiana 17
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Air Force 35
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(21) Clemson 17 FINAL
Boston College 13
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SMU 3
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Northern Ill 51
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Idaho 29
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(20) USC 56
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FIU 13
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(3) Ole Miss 34
Utah State 13 FINAL
Colorado State 16
Missouri 42 FINAL
Florida 13
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(24) LSU 41
(16) Nebraska 38 FINAL
Northwestern 17
Georgia State 27 FINAL
South Alabama 30
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(6) Oregon 45
Iowa State 45 FINAL
Texas 48
(7) Notre Dame 27 FINAL
(2) Florida State 31
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BYU 35
Stanford 10 FINAL
(14) Arizona State 26
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Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
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Cincinnati
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BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
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Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
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Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
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Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
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(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
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(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
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Hawaii
Columbus 3 FINAL
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Los Angeles 2
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Hamilton 16
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Toronto 12
Calgary 33 FINAL
Winnipeg 23
Edmonton 24 FINAL
Saskatchewan 19
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

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