Saturday, December 10, 2016

christian ponder

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2011 NFL Draft

[Editor’s Note: Taking the week off to head down to Podcast Movement! But I wanted to leave you guys with some content to get you through this desert of football news with one of our most downloaded episodes ever. Please enjoy and I’ll catch you next week. -Andy]

Hindsight is 20/20. That’s why we jumped in our DeLorean and went back to save the Vikings from themselves in 2011. There was a run on quarterbacks early in the first round and de facto GM Rick Spielman panicked and overdrafted Christian Ponder at #12. He did hit on Kyle Rudolph in the 2nd and Brandon Fusco in the 6th, but I think we can do a touch better with hindsight and our time machine.

Come along with Purple FTW! as we redo the Vikings 2011 Draft!

Other 1.21 Gigawatts Talking Points Include:
• The Rules of Time Travel
• Remembering the 2010 Vikings (For some reason)
• 2011 Refresher: Frazier, Musgrave, Pagac… LET’S GO!

The Original 2011 Draft Picks
1 (12) – Christian Ponder – QB – Florida State
2 (43) – Kyle Rudolph – TE – Notre Dame
3rd Round Pick went to New England in the Moss Trade (They Took Mallett) #74
4 (106) – Christian Ballard – DE/DT – Iowa
5 (139) – Brandon Burton – CB – Utah
6 (168) – DeMarcus Love – OT – Arkansas
6 (170) – Mistral Raymond – S – USF
6 (172) – Brandon Fusco – C – Slippery Rock
6 (200) – Ross Homan – LB – Ohio State
7 (215) – D’Aundre Reed – DE – Arizona
7 (236) – Stephen Burton – WR – West Texas A&M

• Who I picked instead (Spicy one in the 5th round)
• The real-vs-Andy 2011 Vikings Depth Chart
• The Andy 2015 Vikings Depth Chart (The Secondary is STACKED)

All that and other “Joe Webb signs a big time free agent deal so we can still draft Teddy!” chatter on this edition of the Purple FTW! Podcast!

An Andy Carlson Joint.

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Spielman's best and worst moves
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

(Note: This is a two-part series. The second part focuses on Spielman’s worst moves. For part one, an analysis of the best moves, click here.)

I came into this exercise fairly objectively—while I’ve always been a fan of Spielman overall, I don’t think his work has been infallible. Just before this year’s draft I had a quick online discussion with The Sportive Podcast’s “Clarence Swamptown”—one of Minnesota’s foremost Spielman detractors (at least on Twitter)—and he made some good observations of where the Vikings GM has gone wrong. The conversation gave me some perspective and helped balance the voice of a fanbase that can be overwhelmingly pro-Spielman at times. I will say, though, in the end, I found this two-part series weighted more heavily in favor of the “Best Moves” half. Spielman’s list of worst moves, at least for me, was thinner and more difficult to scrounge together; there were far less blatant failures than there were slam dunks. Perhaps that’s the nature of personnel in the NFL—for example, if you draft a player in the first round, that probably means he’s talented and has a good shot to succeed, so hitting on first-rounders should be the norm, not the exception. Regardless, as you’ll read in the descriptions below, I struggled with this list.

I imagine Swamptown would respond with something to this effect: Spielman’s biggest failures are consistent, smaller whiffs, rather than grandiose, headline grabbing ones (please correct me if I’m wrong, Clarence). And that type of failure—ill-fated mid-round picks, smaller name free agents that didn’t work out, etc.—is probably as important in contributing to a team’s success as the big splashes. It just doesn’t translate as well to a list like this.

Vikings Wonderlic Test
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

The turf at Lucas Oil Stadium is a proving ground for hundreds of college football players at the NFL’s annual Scouting Combine. There, potential first round draft picks and sleepers alike try to sprint, jump, and interview their way onto an NFL roster. It’s the blazing 40-yard dash times and impressive bounds that grab the headlines, but often, it’s their work behind closed doors that boosts (or hurts) a player’s stock.

Team interviews can make or break a prospect’s reputation with organizations. Maxx Williams, the former Golden Gopher tight end, reportedly came across as selfish in combine interviews last year, and his attitude may have turned a few teams off in the process. Eric Kendricks, meanwhile, was described as someone who could walk into a defensive huddle as a rookie and immediately gain the respect of veterans.

Sometimes, the fastest, tallest, and strongest players find themselves falling in the draft. All the weight and speed in the world can’t replace one of football’s most important requirements — cognitive ability. It’s why the Wonderlic Test, as parodied as it may be, remains a crucial aspect of the NFL Draft process and a key into the minds of gridiron greats.

Ranking the Vikings first round selections

[Note: This reflection on the Vikings’ success in the first round of the most recent decade’s worth of drafts is provided courtesy of Matt Falk from Draft Season. We highly recommend checking out their site for scouting reports of this year’s top prospects with a Vikings slant.]

Over the past 10 years, the Vikings have done a decent job finding talent in the first round of the NFL Draft. While they’ve have had their share of big misses, they’ve also hit on some stars along the way.

Let’s take a quick look back and attempt to rank them from worst to best.

#12 – 2011 – Christian Ponder QB, Florida St. (12th overall)

It’s hard to not feel bad for Ponder. He really never should of have been the 12th overall pick. Due to where he was selected, fans had some unrealistic expectations. Unsurprisingly, Ponder never panned out and struggled through a rocky four years in Minnesota. You’ve, gotta give the guy credit though; he acted like a true professional during his time in Minnesota.

#11 – 2013 – Cordarrelle Patterson WR, Tennessee (29th overall)

Patterson toyed with our emotions during his big rookie season, but has been in a nose dive ever since. While he’s still one of the most dangerous return men in the league, he adds absolutely nothing to the team as a wide receiver. Unless he has a huge turnaround, we won’t be seeing him on the field with the offense, except in August. For now, we’ll just have to get excited when he gets the chance to return a kick.

#10 – 2015 – Trae Waynes (11th overall)

The only reason Waynes is so low on the list is because it’s much too soon to know what we really have in the Michigan State cornerback. He barely saw the field as a rookie, but did show some flashes (along with some growing pains). I would feel confident saying that in a few years, we could see him bumping up at least a few spots on this same list.

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