Displays a good mental alarm clock and a quick, compact release, which allows him to consistently beat the pressure. Is a solid athlete for the position who does a nice job stepping up in the pocket, buying time for himself with his feet and has the ability to create with his legs once he breaks containment. Exhibits impressive ball skills, handles the football well on play fakes and looks really comfortable anytime he’s asked to get outside the pocket and make throws on the move. Showcases good anticipation, accuracy and touch on all levels of the field. Spins a really clean football and consistently is able to throw to open receivers both down the seam and outside the numbers. Exhibits a real rhythm in the short passing game as well, quickly setting his feet both from under center and from the gun, striding toward his target and accurately picking defenses apart.
Now, lacks great arm strength when asked to zip the football outside the numbers and can’t be late with a throw. However, because of his rhythm and anticipation skills, he still has the ability to make all the throws required of him at the next level, as long as he’s on time.
Displays a good understanding of the pass game and does a nice job quickly recognizing coverages and working his way one side of the field to another. However, needs to do a better job looking off safeties when attempting bucket throws down the field. His football has a tendency to hang on him a bit down the field, giving rangy defensive backs a chance to make a play on the throw. Also, when working his way back across the field on his progressions, he will occasionally throw blind into coverage. Nevertheless, the guy has come a long way since 2008 and he knows how to handle adversity, work through it and come out on the other side better because of it.
Impression: The kind of quarterback I love. Isn’t the most physically blessed prospect, but is a bright, hard-working kid who has a great feel for the pass game and relies more so on his accuracy, anticipation and rhythm. Looks like a guy who can end up as a very solid NFL-caliber signal-caller at the next level."
While Ponder may never be able to drop to one knee and throw the ball 60 yards down the field like some prospects have, the FSU signal caller has the type of game instincts and leadership skills that very few quarterbacks bring to the table. In every sense of the word he is a quarterback. His teammates follow his lead, he’s a player that makes those around him better with his words and by example, and he has an infectious love of the game that cannot be taught. Whether it’s in the huddle, along the sideline, in the weight room, or organizing team activities in the off-season, there is no doubt about who the field general is. At 6’3” and 227 pounds the athletic Ponder is blessed with above average physical skills when it comes to his size, weight, strength, and scrambling ability. In 2009 the Seminole improved on his touchdown down to interception ratio (14-7) after struggling to protect the ball in 2008 (14-13) and did so while becoming a more explosive passer down the field (8.2 yards per attempt in 2009, 6.3 in 2008). He was also a far more accurate passer as a junior, improving his completion percentage by over 13 percent, from 55.7 as a sophomore to 68.6 percent. Had he remained healthy for his entire junior campaign many believed Ponder could have left school early for the NFL. Right now the biggest hurdle the man under center must overcome is the question surrounding his durability and arm strength—the Florida State product suffered a serious shoulder injury in 2009. He could go anywhere from the first round—some teams have him rated ahead of our number two overall prospect for 2011, Washington’s Jake Locker—to day three of the NFL Draft (fourth round or later).
Our View: Ponder’s performance versus North Carolina was one Seminole fans won’t soon forget. He put the offense on his back and led his team on a come-from-behind victory in which he unleashed some magnificent and well-placed throws, giving credence to the fact that his arm strength has indeed improved this season. In fact, throughout the game, Ponder not only threw a catchable deep ball, but also completed tough passes in the red zone by launching darts in tight windows. What’s more, the 6’3” field general is an intelligent leader who won’t often get caught staring down his targets or telegraphing his passes. In addition, the rising junior has earned the right to check down at the line of scrimmage and change plays. One could only imagine how much better Ponder would be with a better supporting cast, but he does a great job with the current lot of receivers he has by effectively spreading the ball around. As a runner, Ponder may not be as fast as Jake Locker, but he’s plenty elusive and fearless particularly near the goal line. A couple of things he can work on are avoiding to overthrow his receivers in the face of pressure and he can also focus on putting a little more mustard on his throws to the outside.
FSU head coach Bobby Bowden recently had high words of praise for his quarterback Christian Ponder, and also compared him to some of his past signal callers. Said Bowden: “On where Ponder ranks amongst FSU quarterbacks regarding leadership abilities: Oh, I would think he would rank up there with any of them. They are all different. They all have different styles. They all have different demeanors. Charlie [Ward] is not like [Chris] Weinke. Weinke is not like Charlie. Neither one of them are like Ponder. Ponder is nearly as quiet as Charlie, but not as quiet as Charlie. Ponder nearly speaks out as much as Weinke, but nearly as much as Weinke. They are all different, but with their different styles and demeanors, they are all winners. Ponder is the heart and soul of this football team. There is no doubt about it. I don't think there is a quarterback in the country that plays better than him right now. I mean you talk about your Heisman Trophy guys, they are playing pretty good but he is playing better than all of them.”
Negatives: Has a tendency to float balls to the sideline, will struggle throwing intermediate and deep routes at the next level... Despite being asked to throw the ball consistently, hasn't put up big numbers... Doesn't play up to competition and feasts off inferior opponents... Seems to have regressed this year after a breakout junior season... Doesn't get great rotation on his throws, causes some of his intermediate and deep throws to drift away from the receiver... Questionable decision maker, throws a lot of balls into double coverage and trusts his receivers too much... Stares at his number one receiver too long, has to go through his progression quicker... Has some injury concerns, missed his last four games in 2009 due to a separated shoulder."
Ponder's success in 2009 led to higher expectations in 2010. While the numbers are not anything mind boggling, through nine games Florida State is 6-3 and eyeing a trip Atlantic Coast Conference Championship game and Ponder's efficient and consistent play has certainly led the way.
Ponder will not have the strongest arm or quickest feet of any quarterback in this class, but he has decent size at 6-3 and 227 pounds and may be the most complete quarterback in this class if Andrew Luck opts to remain at Stanford. If that is the case and Ponder continues to win while Jake Locker continues to have a bad season and Ryan Mallett remains inconsistent, Ponder could find his stock shooting through the roof."
But he's got an enormous advantage in that which makes most players ~ and QuarterBacks in particular ~ exceptional: Processing Speed. I will pound that point home until I'm dust. Ponder reads the field rapidly, flying through his progression at a speed that consistently allows him to seize the critical half second that makes the pivotal difference in so very many plays at the next level. And he completes this advantage with great instinct, mental acuity for the landscape around him, and well disciplined mechanics.
I would put him far and away ahead of Jake Locker, who I think should make a very good QuarterBack.
1st Rounder, of course, and a very possible Top 10.
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