Scouting Report: Christian Ponder
Ponder may be one of the hardest quarterbacks in the 2011 draft class to figure out. He has tons of potential, a great blend of physical tools, and strong production throughout his career. However, there are a handful of question marks that soil his candidacy as one of the elite quarterbacks of the class. His decision making is questionable at times, his lack of arm strength gets him in trouble from time to time, he’s thrown more interceptions than some GMs would like to see, and he’s got durability concerns to top it all off. Overall, he’s a terrific prospect with a lot of upside. Unfortunately, there’s plenty of room for him to develop into a bust. It will come down to what team drafts him and how much time he’s given to adjust to the speed and talent of the NFL. I project him as an early second round selection.
This could be the area of concern that keeps him from unlocking his potential and becoming a great NFL quarterback. Throughout his career, he struggled to read defenses properly, which ended up in poor pass selection and throws into coverage. He often stares down his primary wide receiver and starts to panic if that receiver doesn’t open up. Although some of career interceptions came due to his lack of elite arm strength, the majority of them were due to bad decisions and forcing passes into receivers that he had locked on to before the snap. Especially when he’s under pressure, he doesn’t make smart throws that too often end in turnovers. There will need to be a noticeable amount of improvement in this area if Ponder hopes to be anything more than a career backup in the NFL.
Well he definitely isn’t going to blow you away with his arm strength, but that isn’t to say that he doesn’t have enough arm strength to get the job done. He fits throws in between defenders on crossing routes with fairly reasonable consistency. Has the arm to throw the ball deep, but sometimes allows his passes to sail when throwing the “go” route far down the field. When he has the space and time to step into his throws, his arm strength is impressive. However, when he is on the run or is forced to throw in a tight space, you can see a significant decline in the velocity of the ball when it comes off of his hand. This lack of arm strength in certain is the reason for quite a few of the interceptions he threw for the Seminoles.
This is another area that Ponder is strong in, but not elite. He has good accuracy when he has time to stand in the pocket and make technically-sound throws. On short routes, both crossing and out routes, he makes up for his lack of strength with accuracy and throws catchable balls that are almost always on target. He does a good job of putting shorter throws in spots that only his receivers can catch them. His accuracy also shows on deep routes, although they sometimes hang too long in the air due to the lack of strength. When he’s under pressure, his accuracy undergoes a steep decline.
Although he possesses sound footwork, it is very inconsistent at times. When he has the time and space to step into his throws, he is among the most accurate quarterbacks in this class because he plants his back foot effectively and throws with power and accuracy. However, when he feels pressure or has to step up in the pocket, he loses his mechanics which causes him to make poor throws that often end in interceptions.
Inside of the pocket, Ponder has good quickness and vision to make around in the pocket to avoid sacks. Unfortunately for him, this movement in the pocket usually throws off his accuracy when throwing the football. Outside of the pocket, he has enough speed and vision to pose a threat to run against defenses. When he’s on the run, he has vision and elusiveness, along with toughness, that allows him to pick up first downs. He isn’t afraid to put his shoulder down and fight for extra yards, but that might not necessarily be a positive considering his injury history. When he rolls out of the pocket, he delivers good throws due to good squaring of his shoulders along with some finesse.
Due to his tight, compact delivery, Ponder is able to throw passes with quickness and effectiveness. He holds the ball around his shoulder and releases the ball over the top for a quick deliver that comes out in a tight spiral. He gets the ball out with great quickness when he tracks down the target that he’s looking for.
Throughout his career, Ponder has been hampered by numerous injuries. The 2009 season ended early for him after having to have season-ending shoulder surgery. He also missed time during the 2010 season due to a number of injuries. Despite possessing elite quarterback talent, his inconsistency and constant health issues have hindered his ability to prove it and could be the difference between a lucrative NFL career and a short-lived one. He will fit best as a quarterback in a West Coast Offense, relying more on short timing routes which compensates for his lack of elite accuracy and arm strength.
2010: Started 12 of 14, missing the other two games due to injury.
2009: Started first nine games before missing the rest of the season due to a shoulder injury.
2008: Started 13 of 13 games.
2007: Played in one of 13 games.
Majored in Sports Management at Florida State; 2009 ACC All-Academic Team.
Awards & Honors
2010: Senior Bowl Offensive MVP; Team Leadership Award and Academic Award
2009: All-ACC Honorable Mention; Wuerffel Trophy finalist; Maxwell Award semifinalist; Manning Award semifinalist; ACC All-Academic Team
2008: Team offensive MVP; Seminole Warrior
Prospect Video Clips
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