Sunday, April 26, 2015
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percy harvin

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We are another Sunday closer to the 2015 NFL Draft and that means we have another batch of “sleeper” articles lined up for you today.

Wide out Adrian Coxson is a player whose talent and attributes warrant a late selection all on their own, but he also happens to be one of the most interesting stories in this class. In a selfish sort of way, I like that because it gives us something to write about between May and August.

On Draft Weekend, Coxson will be listed as a “Stony Brook” player in his player profiles on your TV screen. The truth is that Stony Brook was his third college program and, unlike many players with similar resumes, his movement around the college scene had nothing to do with getting in trouble.

Percy Harvin and the J-E-T-S are coming to town and the Vikings are trying to remain at least statistically relevant in the playoff hunt.  A late-season run, with a little will-they-won’t-they drama, could be just what this organization needs heading into Mike Zimmer’s second season as head coach.

Here are some great links to keep you busy leading up to kickoff:

 

Every year that Rick Spielman has been with the Vikings has produced at least one ambitious and exciting move.  Sometimes they have been in the form of player trades (Jared Allen and Percy Harvin), free agent signings (Brett Favre), or Draft Day moving and shaking (Matt Kalil and Cordarrelle Patterson).  Even during the seemingly ho-hum offseasons he has produced at least one splash move that gets the fanbase to collectively giggle with glee.

Today’s cuts, as outlined earlier by Arif, are reportedly going to leave the Vikings with a whopping $41 million in cap space.  Meanwhile, Spielman is still armed with a full compliment of draft picks.

Right now, most Vikings fans seem to think they have Spielman pegged, that he will predictably spend conservatively in free agency and explore all options to move around throughout Draft Weekend.  They think he’ll bargain hunt, perhaps throw his new coach a bone by signing Michael Johnson, and then lean on Norv Turner to pick which quarterback prospect to target in May.

I don’t think it’ll be that predictable.

 Patrick Reusse of 1500ESPN.com had this same idea in August 2013 when he compared Christian Ponder to other quarterbacks. Well, now it’s my turn to add two cents and lay some tracks down this Ponder path.

Rich  Gannon had a long 17 year career in the NFL as a quarterback largely due to his mobility and toughness. Ponder reminds me a little bit of Gannon in the fact that he can make plays on the run and doesn’t have the world’s greatest arm.

 Gannon didn’t play much during his first three seasons in Minnesota, but he became the Vikings’ starter in his following three seasons. Gannon was a serviceable quarterback for the Vikings, however his stats in his first 42 starts for the Vikings, Redskins and Chiefs combined were nothing more than average at best. In his first nine years in the NFL, Gannon was 21-21 as a starter completing just 56.6% of his pass attempts while throwing for 49 touchdowns and 44 interceptions with a quarterback rate of 73.8.

Like a fine wine that improves with age, Gannon transformed into a very good quarterback at the age of 32. In his last two seasons at Kansas City and his final six years in Oakland he performed at his best. During that time frame, Gannon had a 55-35 record completing 61% of his attempts and throwing 131 touchdowns with 60 interceptions. Gannon won the NFL’s MVP award in 2002 as he guided the Raiders to the Super Bowl and the top rated offense.

Can Christian Ponder develop into a great NFL quarterback too? If he can hang around the league long enough, I think he has enough skill set to be able to pull off a “Gannon like” MVP season at some point in his career. And as for now, it appears the Vikings want to hold onto Ponder for a little while longer. GM Rick Spielman said Friday that he is anxious to see how Ponder looks under new offensive coordinator Norv Turner this off-season. “Christian will be here; I don’t anticipate anything — him not being here,” Spielman said, via Master Tesfatsion of the Startribune. “Right now we’re looking at quarterbacks, so we would say we don’t have the position solidified. I know Christian does have the physical abilities to do it, but for whatever reason things haven’t come together for him.”

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Christian Ponder dove for the endzone during Thursday night’s victory against Washington and came up just shy of the touchdown and with a dislocated shoulder.  Luckily for him the injury was sustained on his non-throwing arm, he now has a long week to recover, and Adrian Peterson scored the touchdown for him one play later.

Ponder’s durability problems has again become a long-term concern since he has had to miss time twice now this season, but the short-term outlook may not be too shabby.  On Monday, Leslie Frazier said Ponder could start Sunday, but that they don’t want to put him in a position where he can’t protect himself and where he could do more damage.

Ponder described himself as “day to day” and said his range of motion was much better on Monday than it was on Friday.

Already missing tight end Kyle Rudolph, whichever quarterback starts on Sunday may have to be without the team’s leading receiver, as Jerome Simpson’s apology for his DWI may not be enough for the NFL or the Vikings to let him suit up.  One receiver that is looking healthy and ready to go is Percy Harvin, however, this time he is suiting up for the opponent.

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