Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder stepped in for Donovan McNabb last season and showed flashes of the ability that made him the 12th overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.
Ponder wasn't without flaws -- no rookie QB is. While he displayed an NFL-type arm and good pocket presence, he also struggled to read some defenses and go through his progressions properly.
Vikings quarterbacks coach Craig Johnson was still with the Tennessee Titans during Ponder's rookie season, but the coach believes the quarterback already has improved from his last game six months ago.
"I think there's no question, he's come light years," Johnson said, according to ESPN Twin Cities. "Obviously, getting a chance to work out a lot of the kinks, a lot of the problems that you find out as a young player, that's when you get a chance to work on them, is usually in the first offseason afterwards. Having been through this with a couple of other quarterbacks, I kind of know how it goes."
McNabb's ineffectiveness last season perhaps forced Minnesota's hand sooner than the Vikings would have liked. There's risk involved with putting a rookie under center before he's ready (see: Gabbert, Blaine), but Ponder showed enough last season for the team to be optimistic.