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From MinnCentric


Is Christian Ponder a Good Fit For the St. Louis Rams?

For as long as football has been a game, injuries have been a big part of it. As players become bigger, faster and stronger, the collisions are bigger, faster and harder! And when injuries creep up during the preseason, they often come as a big slap in the face.
Image courtesy of Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
During week 7 of the 2013 season St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford tore the ACL in his left knee. After months of rehab and a long road to recovery Bradford tore the same ligament this weekend in the Rams third preseason game.

“Unfortunately I can confirm that we have lost Sam [Bradford] for the year,” head coach Jeff Fisher said Sunday. “Sam suffered and injury to the reconstructed knee that he had done less than a year ago…We lost our starting quarterback but for Sam personally it’s devastating.”

With Bradford gone for the entire season, the Rams now turn to journeyman veteran Shaun Hill the man the helm at quarterback.

Entering his 13th year in the NFL, the 34 year old QB was most recently serving as the backup to Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions. While Hill is serviceable as a backup quarterback, his career passer rating of 85.9 and his 13-13 record as a starter has left much to be desired. Behind Hill on the depth chart are Austin Davis (third year) and Garret Gilbert (rookie), neither of which have any NFL experience under their belt.

This then begs the question, with their starter down for the year, are there any serviceable quarterbacks out there that could come in and backup Shaun Hill leaving the Rams a bit more comfortable than two young quarterbacks with no NFL experience (hint, hint, wink wink)?

St. Louis could wait a few more days to see which third or fourth string quarterbacks get cut as teams trim their roster down to 75 early this week and then down to 53 just a few days later. But it’s unlikely that any of those quarterbacks would any viable NFL experience under their belt. Well what about this Coach Fisher…what would you say if I told you I had a quarterback available who is young, experienced and has led his team to the playoffs already?

Enter Christian Ponder.

To say that Christian Ponder hasn’t had the best record of success in Minnesota might be a bit of an understatement. A surprising draft pick in 2011 at the 12th overall selection, Ponder joined a Vikings team that was desperate to find a franchise quarterback. With the pressure on him early, Ponder saw his starting opportunity to start out of the gate fading away when Minnesota went out and signed Donovan McNabb part way through Training Camp. So Ponder would sit. For six games he sat on the sidelines as we all watched McNabb’s career fall apart before our eyes until week seven when young Christian finally got his opportunity to start a game on the road against the Chicago Bears.

Christian went on to finish that 2011 season with a 2-8 record as the starter. He had thrown for nearly 2,000 yards and 13 touchdowns, but most importantly he had gained valuable experience as the starter.

2012 saw Ponder’s potential start to shine. Entering the season as the established starter, Ponder led the Vikings to a 5-1 start to the year. With Adrian Peterson running at a record pace besides him, Ponder carried the Vikings undefeated through a tough final month of the season and into the playoffs for the first time in his career. Unfortunately, Christian would miss that playoff game with a shoulder injury and the but it finally looked like the young quarterback had figured something out. Then 2013 happened.

With off the field distractions at a maximum, Christian's on the field play started to suffer. With his confidence already low, the Vikings played musical chairs at the quarterback position and started to make strides towards publicly admitting that Ponder was in fact not the guy they thought he was.

By the start of 2014 Training Camp, Christian had found himself third on the depth chart behind a veteran leader (Matt Cassel) and a highly touted rookie (Teddy Bridgewater).

Please don’t hear me wrong, I’m not saying that Christian’s skill sets are far and away better than Shaun Hill’s. Shaun has seen more, he’s learned more and he might have a little more confidence built up over the span of his career, but Christian Ponder is more talented. Even if St. Louis were interested in an upgrade to backup Shaun Hill, Ponder is surely more talented than Austin David and Garrett Gilbert.

So what could the Vikings get in return for Christian Ponder if the Rams were to come knocking?

During the off season, the San Francisco 49ers landed a 6th round pick for a quarterback in Blaine Gabbert who was drafted ahead of Ponder in 2011 but had accomplished far less in his three year career than Christian. With a team as desperate as St. Louis, a 6th round value is where you have to start the conversation.

To put the value of a 6th (or 7th) round pick in perspective for you, only 2 of the Vikings four 6th and 7th round picks (Jeff Baca & Mike Mauti) are even on the roster with the Vikings this year, and one of those two is almost assuredly getting cut before the season starts. That said, the year before the Vikings struck a little gold landing kicker Blair Walsh in the sixth round and LB Audie Cole in the 7th round. On top of that, we’ve seen general manager Rick Spielman find ways to package picks the last few Drafts and move up into more favorable early round positions. So there is definite value in acquiring those late round selections.

Admittedly, Ponder hasn’t put the best tape out there this preseason, but I still hold to the belief that Christian is an above average quarterback in this league. Given the situation in St. Louis, beggars can’t be choosers either. If I were the St. Louis Rams I would be on the phone with the Minnesota Vikings before assuring themselves that after Thursday, he can be on his way to St. Louis ready to back up (and compete with) Shaun Hill for the Rams.

It's time for Christian and the Vikings to make a split. It wasn't an awful three years, but it probably won't have all of the fond memories that both sides had hoped for. If the Vikings can swing a late round draft pick for Ponder they have to do it. It would be better for them and surely better for Christian. He's a great guy off the field, but between the white lines it's definitely time to move on.


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15 Comments

Brock Beauchamp
Aug 25 2014 06:11 AM

Would you give up Ponder for a seventh round pick who probably won't make the roster at all? Is it even worth trading Christian at that point?

 

If they can somehow finagle a fourth round pick, I could see jumping all over that deal... I just wonder if it's even worth the effort to move the guy for a 6-7 round pick.

Anything they can get for Ponder would be a bonus at this point. I'm not for cutting him, but I'd take a draft pick. Former Viking Shaun Hill has worked himself in to a very capable back-up and I'm sure won't be completely horrible if they chose to start him the whole season.

Out of decency to Ponder, if another team will offer him a chance to start, let him go - even if only for a late draft pick. He has been a good team guy. He never pouted or bad mouthed anyone when things got rough.  It just didn't work out here and now his chances of starting for the Vikings ever again are pretty much zero. Maybe a fresh start in another environment will spark something and he will be able to resurrect his career.

Brock Beauchamp
Aug 25 2014 07:00 AM

Out of decency to Ponder, if another team will offer him a chance to start, let him go - even if only for a late draft pick. He has been a good team guy. He never pouted or bad mouthed anyone when things got rough.  It just didn't work out here and now his chances of starting for the Vikings ever again are pretty much zero. Maybe a fresh start in another environment will spark something and he will be able to resurrect his career.

That's fair. If the Vikings want to do it for personal reasons, it's a nice gesture... I'm just not sure it makes sense from a business standpoint.

    • peasej likes this
ForPete'sSake
Aug 25 2014 07:31 AM

The ball is in the Rams' court on this.  They may not want Ponder.  I wouldn't if I were Jeff Fisher.  He is more mobile than Hill - but probably not a huge upgrade in terms of play-making ability from inside the pocket.  If I am the Rams or the Texans, I am seeking a higher ceiling on QB play than Ponder.  

They should trade him, but not give him away.. I am a 20 year Vikings fan and have seen our old quarterbacks go out and win Superbowls for other teams when we though they were washed up. Recently we have had awesome luck in the draft and most teams would have a hard time finding the talent we have over the last 7 years or so.

Brad Johnson - Superbowl Winner

Rich Gannon - Lost to Brad in Superbowl - XXXVII

 

Then all our other players that have landed on Superbowl teams, Mainly Seattle, and the Saints. Everytime I watch a Superbowl I see our old players on the field making great plays. Heck even Tavaris Jackson has a ring...

 

Ponder should get a chance to play somewhere else if we can get a Nice draft pick or 2 for him.. He's healthy and can make plays with his legs, his poise makes him a good fit in St. Louis and with a stable coaching environment he might flourish.. If I was the Rams needing a quality young 1st round quarterback with high upside and still coachable Ponder is a great fit and worth the next 2 years of 2nd round picks.. Take nothing less.. Otherwise we might be watching him on the sidelines making millions filling water cups. We surely need to get something decent for him, he has never had a great receiving core in Minnesota that he was able to click with. Rudolph was out most of the season last year. Peterson has just started to become a utility back. The offense has not included Ponder much and I don't see how he could be plugged in at this point and be beneficial for the Vikings.

 

My 2 cents..

 

- Peasej

It isn't often that the 3rd stringer gets any playing time, but I feel like he is ok as a clipboard-holding, insurance policy qb.  I don't really like the idea of having only 2 qbs on the roster.  Look what happened to Cleveland last year.  If someone comes out and offers a decent pick, I think I'd take it.  But don't give him away yet.  Why help out the Rams here?  They're going to be in the same boat as we are, trying to get into a wild-card spot.  How mad would you be if a Ponder-led Rams team made the playoffs and we didn't.  But let's be honest, that couldn't happen!!! Could it?

As I said in another forum yesterday, hanging onto Ponder makes sense because his market value only goes up as the regular season starts. It's surprising that the QBs are already going down (Bradford and Cam Newton with a cracked rib). But it is bound to happen again. Unless the Rams make you an offer you can't refuse, I would say hold out until they have played their first game (Ponder would know too much about the Vikings offense). Perhaps Shaun Hill doesn't perform as expected and the asking price gets a little higher.

Brock Beauchamp
Aug 25 2014 08:29 AM

Unless the Rams make you an offer you can't refuse, I would say hold out until they have played their first game (Ponder would know too much about the Vikings offense). Perhaps Shaun Hill doesn't perform as expected and the asking price gets a little higher.

Heh, good point. Probably a bad idea to trade a guy who knows the entire offensive playbook to the team you're playing in week one.

Would you give up Ponder for a seventh round pick who probably won't make the roster at all? Is it even worth trading Christian at that point?

 

If they can somehow finagle a fourth round pick, I could see jumping all over that deal... I just wonder if it's even worth the effort to move the guy for a 6-7 round pick.

 

Yeah I am with you.  I would rather keep him as an insurance QB than give him away for a 6th or 7th rounder.  I think 4th round and up would work maybe a 5th later in the season but not this early.  As the season goes on and QB's go down there will be fewer viable options left  and we should be able to get more for him.  Who knows if Cassell goes down and Teddy can't do it or gets hurt as well we might need Ponder ourselves.  We are in the drivers seat and it is too early to unload him for just anything.

nicksaviking
Aug 25 2014 12:01 PM

I'd trade him for anything, and if I can get nothing, I'd release him anyway.  Clearly, he's an excellent option for a #3 QB, but I don't want this team carrying a #3 QB anyway, plenty of teams no longer do.  Save the roster spot for a young guy with some potential and give Christian a chance for a fresh start.

 

I'm not sure if Ponder is as attractive as we'd hope, even for a desperate team.  He hasn't ever shown the knack for picking up the playbook even when he's had a full offseason to review it, now he'll be asked to pick one up on the fly? Not sure that would go over well.  However, Jeff Fisher's offenses might be one of the few that still resembles Musgraves plodding, run heavy attack, so it's possibly not too different.

Trade him to St. Louis if they want him. We will be looking back in 5 years wondering why he never did this well as a Viking. At least he's a likeable enough guy where I want to see him do well. Not sure he had any chance of success here under Frazier.

 

We can work miracles with draft picks, Ponder is a first round pick from 2011, he should fetch some attention from a team needing a quarterback. I think Ponder can succeed in a different system under a different coach, I personally would like to see it and take some nice draft picks for Ponder.

 

What did we get for T-Jack? Ponder is better than T-Jack any day...

 

- Peasej

Trade for a contingent pick. Ponder's gone at the end of the season anyway. Trade for a pick contingent on the wins, yards, starts, whatever metric gets the Vikings fair value based on Ponder's performance. I've seen enough of him to think fair value won't be much, but a 7th with a chance at better would be a good trade. For a non-contingent 6th or 7th he's worth keeping for insurance.

5th rounder I say. He's vastly out performed Gabbert. And while there are no absolutes to dictate value in this case, another QB taken in the same draft as Ponder, and the same round, who has done less, has helped set a value with his 6 round pick price tag. If the Rams would offer up a 5th round pick for a QB who needs a fresh start, will only be our #3, and won't even see the field barring disaster, and is gone at the end of the year regardless, I'd call if fair and jump at it.

If Cassel goes down and Teddy takes the helm, we would continue to start Teddy regardless of how good or bad he does, we all want to see Teddy do well, Ponder will never start as a Viking unless the situation is dire and even then we would have a hard time figuring out what to do with him. Trade him while the iron is hot or lose him and get nothing at the end of the season. Everyone has to see this.

 

- Peasej


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