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Too soon? Titans, Vikings reach for QBs in Locker, Ponder

NEW YORK -- Desperation can make NFL teams do some strange things.

The Tennessee Titans and Minnesota Vikings provided prime examples Thursday night.

Their insatiable hunger for quarterback help resulted in two more bizarre choices in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft: Washington's Jake Locker to the Titans at No. 8 and Florida State's Christian Ponder to the Vikings at No. 12.

Both look like fairly big reaches for the first round.

Locker is an extremely raw player. Although he entered last season as a favorite to be a fairly high draft choice, he struggled mightily, and it seemed that his stock nosedived. By all indications, he is far from being able to provide the sort of immediate help the Titans, who don't have a starting quarterback, are seeking in what soon will be the post-Vince Young era.

It will be tough enough for new coach Mike Munchak to turning around things while working with a Titans team in transition. It will be even harder if he has to push Locker onto the field at any point in his rookie year, and possibly even in his second year, but that's likely to be the expectation.

Ponder was widely seen as a good pick in the early portion of the second round. Most talent evaluators saw him as a good developmental quarterback who would be a perfect addition to a team that has a reliable starter.

The Vikings aren't that team. Brett Favre is gone, and Joe Webb hardly can be viewed as a hold-the-fort solution while a rookie is groomed as the eventual starter.

Sure, Ponder receives extremely high marks for intelligence, command and leadership. But he needs plenty of coaching to improve his mechanics. He doesn't fall into the category of a quarterback who figures to give the Vikings the spark they hope to have in Leslie Frazier's first full season as their coach.

However, as the 12th pick, Ponder can probably expect to end up on the field sooner than he should.

It's all part of the strangeness that comes from desperation.

» Follow Vic Carucci on Twitter @viccarucci

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