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Pondering Ponder: The risk of second-round QBs

There is a building consensus among draft analysts that Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert and Auburn quarterback Cam Newton will be selected before the Redskins’ pick 10th overall.

ESPN’s Mel Kiper said earlier this month that he believes Texas Christian quarterback Andy Dalton would be a solid fallback option for the Redskins if Gabbert and Newton are gone.

ESPN’s Todd McShay last week took it a step further and projected the Redskins will draft a quarterback in the second round (No. 41 overall). However, he believes Florida State’s Christian Ponder in their man.

He projected the quarterbacks to be drafted in the following order:

Gabbert to Buffalo at No.  3

Newton to Arizona at No. 5

U of Washington’s Jake Locker to Seattle at No. 25

Ponder to the Redskins at No. 41

Dalton to Minnesota at No. 43

McShay in a teleconference this morning compared Ponder to Jake Delhomme and Kevin Kolb, saying Ponder is “a little bit taller and sturdier” than Dalton.

For the record, Ponder measured 6-2, 229 at the combine, while Dalton was 6-2, 215.

The wisdom of drafting ANY quarterback in the second round is questionable, though, considering the terrible track record of second-round quarterbacks in the last decade.

Since San Diego drafted Drew Brees in 2001, here’s the list of second-round quarterbacks. You might wanna hide the kids:

Jimmy Clausen, Carolina, 2010

Pat White, Miami, 2009

Brian Brohm, Green Bay, 2008

Chad Henne, Miami, 2008

Kevin Kolb, Philadelphia, 2007

John Beck, Miami, 2007

Drew Stanton, Detroit, 2007

Kellen Clemens, New York Jets, 2006

Tarvaris Jackson, Minnesota, 2006

Not exactly inspiring, is it?

“There’s a reason that these guys are second rounders,” McShay said. “There’s some kind of risk or concern.”

McShay has the list for this year’s second tier:

“With Jake Locker it’s the accuracy.”

“With [Arkansas' Ryan] Mallett it’s the feet and the character concerns.”

“With Andy Dalton from TCU it’s the arm strength.”

“With Christian Ponder it’s some of the medical [history, including his right (throwing) shoulder injury], and he has average to adequate arm strength, not elite arm strength. And he doesn’t fit every single system. And his accuracy as he throws down the field starts to tail off.”

That’s not to say that Gabbert and Newton come without question marks. On the contrary. McShay believes that neither is as NFL-ready as Atlanta’s Matt Ryan or St. Louis’ Sam Bradford was coming out of college.

But McShay speculates this could be the year that quarterbacks defy the negative second-round trend because of the group’s depth.

“I think it’s just you get more quality seniors coming out,” he said. “Even though we’re seeing more spread offenses and systems that don’t fit the NFL, I do think you have a bunch of seniors who have played a bunch of games and have been successful and a lot of intelligent players. I think guys like Dalton and Ponder and even guys like [Nevada’s] Collin Kaepernick and [Iowa’s] Ricky Stanzi, they know what it takes to be successful. They’ve been through a lot of games and have really gotten it done at the college level.

“While each of them will have to make a certain type of transition to the NFL, I think this year is unique in that we have so many quality quarterbacks that can get it done in different kinds of system. Andy Dalton, I thought, just got better and better every year. I think a lot of that had to do with playing of reps.”

Ponder sold himself at last month’s combine as a quarterback experienced in a pro-style offense.

“Intelligence is a huge advantage for me, being able to comprehend offenses and defenses,” he said. “We ran a complex offense at Florida State, and I think it will carry over well to the NFL. I’m athletic enough to move in the pocket and make plays with my feet.”

That background could significantly help his value considering that NFL labor issues could deny him a normal offseason learning a pro playbook.

“We ran multiple formations at Florida State, and had tons of different pass protections,” he said. “I did a lot of checking at the line. Just talking to scouts already I’ve learned a lot of stuff they do we’ve already been doing at Florida State. I think it’s a huge advantage for me. There is different terminology, but we ran some of the same concepts, with the run checks. A lot of it really transfers over and I was surprised by that fact.”

With that in mind, would you be OK with the Redskins drafting a quarterback in the second round?


  • Al Washington

    Rich, Maybe you are too young or have a short memory, but the Redskins already had a late round pick QB from Florida State (Brad Johnson) at the helm several years ago; unfortunately Dan Snyder decided that the great Jeff George was better suited to lead the Skins offense—fortunately for Brad he was traded to Tampa Bay where he led the Buccaneers to a Super Bowl Championship. To answer your question, yes, the Redskins would benefit from selecting Christian Ponder, but as an FSU fan, I hope they don’t (he DESERVES better).

  • Rich Campbell

    Ha! I’m not THAT young :) I do remember Brad Johnson, and yes, he was the better option instead of Jeff George.

    What specifically do you like about Ponder? I’ve heard that you have to evaluate his junior season because he was so banged up as a senior.

  • Al Washington

    Christain Ponder Profile: scored a near perfect 35 on the Wonderlic NFL intelligence test, possesses mobility, doesn’t throw into coverage, possesses the range to make all “the throws” (witness the NFL Combine results and his Senior Bowl MVP performance)—add his great character (not a “me” person—-hey Cam Newton) and community-oriented spirit. Also check the FSU-Florida game stats from last year—a great example of what he can accomplish when healthy.

  • Ali

    I think it would be great if the Skins picked up Ponder. If they can just trade down they could prob get him by the end of the first round and pick up an OLB or NT with their other early pick

  • Greg

    Considering the history of choosing players based purely on potential and athletic prowess, I’d just like the Skins to stop reaching in all positions and at all times. T. WIlliams not withstanding, there are too many times people get hyped about people like Newton who look pretty, but who have character concerns and/or can’t seem to understand coverages.

    This debate about QBs reminds me of the debate in the 90′s about the Shuler vs Dilfer. Dilfer wasn’t exactly a huge NFL success, but the Skins picked the prettier QB who couldn’t think and flamed out.

    PLEASE, if we must get a QB this year, pick one who has the stuff that can’t be taught — intelligence, accuracy, and character.