As Chris Wesseling from Around the League and Albert Breer report, Christian Ponder—along with Matt Cassel and Teddy Bridgewater—will take some first-team snaps in offseason training activities. Wesseling’s interpretation: Ponder’s on the trade block.
Ponder has evidently dropped some body fat and gained more muscle, which should add to the weight he put on in the 2012 offseason. If he maintained that 2012 weight and simply added on to it, he should be at 238 pounds.
There is honestly nothing too surprising about all of this. It would hardly make sense to preach a “true competition” at quarterback without letting every quarterback get an opportunity to work with the “first team” offense, which will likely not be the same offense by the end of training camp anyway (looking at you, Charlie).
Yes, the Vikings are unlikely to install Christian Ponder as the Day One starter, but it’s not as if he was the worst quarterback in the NFL over his tenure. That was probably Blaine Gabbert.
Speaking of Blaine Gabbert, general manager of the Jaguars Dave Caldwell was able to trade him for a sixth-round pick.
Vikings: “Ponder has proven his drive, in great shape, can compete for #1.” Translation: “We’d love a 2015 fifth round pick.”
— Darren Page (@DarrenPage15) May 25, 2014
Indeed we would, Darren! On my podcast, I speculated that Ponder would be worth a conditional fifth-round pick that could turn into a seventh (or sixth, to be fair) based on things like playing time, making the roster, etc.
Despite the fact that Ponder outperformed Blaine Gabbert, I wouldn’t be surprised if his market was depressed in comparison. Most general managers trade for young players because they remember the college tape and overlook the NFL tape, assuming their coaches can tap into what was there when coming out of college. That’s important, because Gabbert was a better quarterback by the consensus coming out of college than Ponder.
This competition isn’t likely just for trade bait or for competition’s sake—Mike Zimmer has probably always wanted to make sure there was competition at every spot on the roster from the day he arrived. The situations are not very analogous, but it does recall the Seahawks’ three-person quarterback competition with two long-shots (Russell Wilson and Tarvaris Jackson) and a presumed starter (Matt Flynn). Staying true to what they saw, instead of presumption, the Seahawks chose to make Wilson the Day One quarterback and it worked out.
In the spirit of true competition, we may want others to take a snap or two with the first team offense! Gerald Hodges was a quarterback in high school, and rushed for 13 touchdowns while passing for ten more. Though perhaps 81 passing attempts in high school isn’t enough.
81 passing attempts, interestingly, is also the same number of attempts Jerick McKinnon had in his college career. He averaged 10.2 yards per attempt (Hodges fell behind, with a high school YPA of 8.6).
Kain Colter, an undrafted free agent trying out for the Vikings as a receiver, had slightly more than 81 passing attempts his senior year (he had 82). Unlike McKinnon, however, Colter’s YPA was a paltry 7.1. In fairness, Colter also had 240 other passing attempts in college as well.
Maybe not, though.
At any rate, don’t read too much into this one way or the other; it’s just a way for the staff to shake the cobwebs and get a “truer” evaluation of what they have. Do not be surprised if other players at other positions get the same treatment throughout OTAs.