2011 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Christian Ponder, FSU

NFL Mocks is  rolling out our new scouting report template that brings you even more in-depth analysis.  We break down several key traits and grade them on a scale from 5-1.  The breakdown is that 5 being the best and 1 being the worst.  We then will give the prospect an overall grade that is also based on the 5-1 scaling system.  At the end of each of the reports we give an overall assessment as well as a definition of our grade.  This reports are rather lengthy but it really gives you a good feel for each player.  If your looking for a quick breakdown check out the top graphic which gives our strengths and weaknesses for the specific player.  So please continue reading to see our full scouting report!

Athletic Ability: Ponder possesses good balance and coordination in both his drop and while on the move.  He isn’t an elite athlete but he has enough speed and quickness to hurt a defense with his feet.  On several occasions he was able to out run the angles of the defense.  What I like about Ponder is his fluid motions and ability to change direction.   3

Measurables: At 6-3 227lbs Ponder has average size for the quarterback position.  He possesses enough height to see over the line and deliver a clean football.  At 227lbs he has good bulk which should help him absorb some contact.  I don’t expect Ponder to wow anyone at the combine but he should give a solid performance.               3

Football IQ: Ponder possesses an excellent feel for the quarterback position.  He has a lot of savvy in his game especially when executing screen plays.  His ability to effectively decoy on screens allows for his target to pick up an extra couple yards.  Ponder was calm and collected as he made his pre snap reads and showed he could identify potential blitzes.  I was pleased to see that Ponder was comfortable going through his progressions.  He routinely set and reset his feet while going across the field looking to his secondary targets.  While a lot of quarterbacks tend to lock on to their primary target, Ponder is able to influence the defense with his head and eyes.      4

Competitiveness:  This has been a tough season for Ponder as he had to endure injury problems but he has remained positive.  Ponder worked tirelessly to overcome the injury and get on the field to help his football team.  He is the type of player that is completely focused until the last whistle regardless of the score.  I love his willingness to run with the football and take on contact; however, he needs to learn how to slide to remain durable in the NFL.       4

Technique: Florida State’s offensive system allowed Ponder to get comfortable taking snaps from under center.  On his drop back, Ponder takes solid balanced steps while keeping his head on a swivel.  He holds the ball tight to his frame and above his breast plate which avoids wasted motions and results in a quick release.  Ponder does a great job setting his feet and body towards his target which allows him to deliver an accurate football.  The one word that describes Ponder is consistency as he regularly has sound technique.                  4

Arm Strength: This is the area of most concern for Ponder.  While watching the film his throws had a tendency to float to the target.  It was evident on the 10-12 yard outs and hitch patterns because defensive backs routinely were in a position to make a play on the football.  The ball just appears to take a long time to get to the target with little zip.  There were also several deep balls that were under thrown; he may struggle to hit speedy wide receivers on streak patterns.  All these observations were in 2010 games but when I put on a 2009 game I noticed a lot more zip on his throws.  This season he battled an elbow injury that could have impacted the power he was able to generate.  Overall, after looking at the tape I feel that Ponder has an average arm but can make NFL throws.     3

Accuracy (short, intermediate, Long, on the move): Ponder has very good accuracy in the short passing game.  He has the ability to throw his target open, allowing them to gain extra yardage after the catch.  Ponder has good ball placement but his questionable arm strength impacts his intermediate accuracy.  In the long range passing game, Ponder is inconsistent but has shown he can deliver a nice bucket pass.  I do have concerns about his deep accuracy but feel confident he can be an effective down the field passer.  Ponder is impressive when it comes to delivering an accurate ball on the move.  His accuracy can be attributed to his commitment to setting his feet and body towards his target.  From my evaluations, Ponder is the most consistent and accurate passer in this quarterback class.        4

Pocket Presence/Under Pressure: Ponder is calm and unflappable under pressure.  He feels the rush and can move around the pocket while remaining focused down the field.  Ponder does a good job resetting his feet and body after he is forced to navigate the pocket.  Defensive coordinators also need to be concerned with Ponder’s ability to use his feet to pick up yardage.  He has the athletic ability to escape the pocket and pick up big chunks.               4

Reading Defenses: Ponder does a good job diagnosing what the defense is trying to throw at him.  He has the presence to identify pre snap alignments and potential blitzers.  After the snap he is comfortable going across the field with his progressions.  He doesn’t panic when his first read is covered and quickly looks to his secondary reads.  The most important skill Ponder possesses is the way he anticipates his throws.  He gets the ball quickly out of his hands and before his target makes their break.  He trusts that his wide receivers will run the correct route.  His anticipation is going to be the key to his NFL success because of his limited arm strength.  While he does a nice job reading the defense this is still an area he could improve.  In the past, he has shown that he will make poor decisions and force a ball or two.  Overall he does a nice job processing post snap information.     4

Overall: I really like Christian Ponder as an NFL quarterback prospect.  He doesn’t have the physical attributes like others in this draft but he has a better feel for the game.  The things that will really hold him back are his arm strength and injury history.  But overall he has the accuracy, fundamentals, and anticipation to succeed as an NFL quarterback.  At this point I would only select Ryan Mallett and Blaine Gabbert ahead of Ponder and that is due to their upside.

Grade: 3.8- Ponder is a 2nd or 3rd round talent that is more developed with less upside.  However he had the tools and ability to be an effective NFL quarterback.

Games Views:  Maryland, Miami, UNC, Miami ’09, UNC ‘09

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