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 before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.

Preparing for '12 draft: Vikings need to evaluate Ponder

Posted by: Mark Craig under Vikings, NFC, Adrian Peterson, Percy Harvin Updated: October 17, 2011 - 10:01 AM

Two words came to mind as the Vikings were getting thumped at Soldier Field last night:

Mel Kiper.

As in I wonder who Mel will have the Vikings taking on his big board, whenever that first mock draft comes out (who knows, maybe it's already out).

The Vikings might be bad enough to be presented with another opportunity to take a quarterback. That's why they need to start Christian Ponder the rest of the season. I'm assuming that will be the news out of Winter Park later today, but we'll have to wait and see about that.

To those who say it would damage Ponder to put him on the field too early, I say this: If it damages him, then he's not the guy they thought he was.

The season essentially is over and the career clocks on guys such as Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin are tick, tick, ticking away. The Vikings need to move forward into the future at quarterback. Good, bad or probably ugly for the rest of this season.

If the Vikings are sitting in position to take another quarterback in next year's draft, they can't be wondering how Ponder will react when he starts. They need to have these final 10 games to evaluate what they have.

Besides, look at what Andy Dalton is doing in Cincinnati. Dalton is a second-round draft pick who was thrown in the deep end as a starter on a historically awful franchise coming off a 4-12 season.

Six weeks later, Dalton has matched last year's win total while going 4-2 as a starter. He's also completing 62.4 percent of his passes with an 84.3 passer rating.  


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