Skip to main content

How realistic can Frazier's expectations for Ponder really be?

Give the Minnesota Vikings credit for this much: They aren't backing away from the second-guessing they've received for making Christian Ponder the No. 12 pick of the NFL draft.

In fact, they've pretty well made certain that they'll get even more of it in the coming weeks and months.

Coach Leslie Frazier put himself and his team in that position by recently telling ESPN Radio Twin Cities that he would like Ponder to be ready to start in the Vikings' Sept. 11 season-opener against the San Diego Chargers.


It would be difficult to envision any rookie passer stepping into that role so soon, particularly from a quarterback class that most talent-evaluators and analysts see containing more developmental players than immediate-impact performers.

And Ponder was widely thought to need as much time to develop as any member of the class.

Yes, he is intelligent. Yes, his outstanding performance at the Senior Bowl resonated with decision-makers from the Vikings and several other teams. Still, there was hardly a consensus that the former Florida State standout carried a first-round value; the popular presumed landing spot for Ponder was early in the second round.

To say the least, universal shock registered throughout the league when Ponder was chosen as high as he was.

Even after the pick was made, most observers figured the Vikings would still be in the market to acquire a veteran quarterback via trade or free agency, when those avenues of personnel acquisition become available. Frazier's plans for Ponder shouldn't necessarily change that.

As Frazier readily acknowledges, the lockout's prevention of teams working with rookies during the offseason, and possibly into training camp, could compromise the Vikings' ability to prepare Ponder to enter the season as a starter.

The meeting Ponder had with Vikings offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave the day after the draft was helpful, but there is so much more to learn about the intricacies of playing quarterback in the NFL. Ponder isn't going to get that from non-team-supervised workouts.

The Vikings would be wise, when the opportunity presents itself, to acquire an experienced quarterback who will require less preparation to begin the schedule in the No. 1 spot.

Joe Webb is not that guy. Although he saw playing time as a rookie last year, he appears far too raw to be expected to effectively handle the job, especially without any team-run offseason training.

As Frazier put it, though, he sees only one scenario that is "ideally" suited to launching his first full season as the Vikings' coach. And it is every bit as bold as the decision to use the No. 12 pick on Ponder.

Follow Vic Carucci on Twitter @viccarucci.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.