Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Dilfer critical of Ponder and Vikings

Posted by: under Quarterbacks, Vikings, NFL draft, Vikings draft Updated: April 29, 2011 - 2:42 PM

Former NFL quarterback and current analyst Trent Dilfer made an appearance this morning on Colin Cowherd's show on ESPN Radio and let's just say he did not hold back when the topic of Christian Ponder came up. Dilfer does not think the Vikings made a wise choice with the 12th pick in the draft.

Here's what Dilfer had to say:

"You don't want to attack a kid right now. This is a great moment for any kid. And they are all good football players. Christian Ponder is a tremendous young man. Everything I hear about him, he is lights out as a human being. That's a good thing because intangibles brought him up. But if you notice the draft last night, if you notice the teams that were looking for quarterbacks, they are teams that have failed getting quarterbacks before. And the teams that didn't need quarterbacks, didn't need quarterbacks because they get it right and pick good ones. So there are teams that know quarterbacks and teams that don't.

"And the teams that I talked to are the teams that know quarterbacks. Why would I talk to teams that don't know quarterbacks? Don't know how to evaluate the quarterback. So I'm doing my work and I work hours and hours. Hundreds of hours on these quarterbacks. And then I talk to teams that know quarterbacks. And the consensus was [Andy] Dalton, [Cam] Newton, there's some huge upside. Great ceilings but Dalton really was the man.

"Dalton was the dude. Dalton was the guy that played the position most like it's going to be asked to be played in the NFL. He had the intangible makeup. He had the alpha male personality. He had all the stuff you need. Toughness, anticipation, all the things that you value the most. ... And you ask yourself then, how does Christian Ponder go 12? A guy that I didn't have in the first three rounds.

"I've seen every snap he took. I think you have to understand how I weighed it. I'll start there. I put a weighting system on all the different things I evaluated. I evaluate about 40 different things when I look at each quarterback. Things that I put the most weight on are, one, their personality, who they are. Because the only common denominator I've found in great quarterbacks in this league is their alpha male personality. They step into a room and all eyeballs are on them, right? That's the number one thing. [Dalton] has that.

"Then I look at how he plays in stinky situations. When it's tough, when it's hard, when people are close, when it's a big down. When it's the hardest it could possibly be. Nobody [is] better than Andy Dalton in college football. The more people around him, the better he plays. Third-and-7, best player in football. Third-and-9, in a bowl game, throws a comeback with a guy in his face, throws it early, before the guy is open, sticks it on the chest. First down, touchdown on that drive. ... Does all the things NFL quarterbacks need to do.

"Christian Ponder. This is a guy that his film, his tape is average at best. He was very so-so in terms of production as a college football player. Has injury issues, is going to have more injury issues because of how he's built. His shoulders are rolled forward. His scapula will not rotate properly in the throwing motion. You notice his motion, it's like a whipping motion with his elbow. That's why his elbow hurts. That's not going to go away, it's just going to get worse.

"He's a one-tempo player. I think this is what people need to understand the most. He plays at one tempo. His drop, his arm speed, everything about him. [Former NFL quarterback and ESPN analyst] Tim Hasselbeck last night called him deliberate. It's because it's one tempo. He has to play at this 7-on-7 tempo. The drop has to be rhythmical, the receivers have to be open, the ball goes one speed, the pocket has to be nice.

"Any time he's asked to quicken that up or there's people around him his accuracy is awful. And I'm so sick of hearing about accuracy, accuracy, accuracy. Acurracy is not 7-on-7, accuracy is not when the receiver is open. You should be accurate every time then. It's when your feet have to move, it's when you get bumped, it's when you have to climb, it's when you're going to two and three. That's when you have to be accurate. That's how you should evaluate accuracy.

"The great quarterbacks are as accurate going to two, three and four as they are to No. 1 when you get No. 1 open. Christian Ponder, as soon as you get to two or three and there are people running, the ball is darting, it's high, it's all over the place. The reason is he plays with a lot of anxiety. Do you want your quarterback in the NFL to play with a lot of anxiety?

"There's a fourth-and-1, there's two of them in his tape, where the guy is wide open and he dirts the ball. He rushes everything up and he's anxious when he plays. Now how does this happen? We live in a world where John Brenkus [the host] of Sports Science, he's brilliant. He brings these guys down there and puts all these tests on him and Christian Ponder tests off the charts. He's in shorts and a T-shirt.

"He goes to his pro workout, he's in shorts and a T-shirt. His big pecs are hanging out, he's got big guns, he looks great, he's a good looking young man and he spins that ball around the football field in a perfect environment and people go, 'Wow, he can play.' They evaluate now in the NFL when the guys don't have the pads on. When there's nobody around them.

" ... I didn't give him top three round value and he goes No. 12? It's a travesty that the Minnesota Vikings and the Seattle Seahawks not taking Dalton at 25. We're talking major, major whiffs in the first round."

And Dilfer wasn't done:

"Christian Ponder is Elvis Grbac. He's Elvis Grbac. Elvis Grbac was a beautiful thrower, he threw for 4,000 yards. He did a lot of nice stuff. Every time it got tough, he melted. This game is about the toughest people mentally and physically."

 

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