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Monday, May 2, 2011
Ponder: A great disturbance in the Force

By Kevin Seifert
ESPN.com

I've paged through your 1,000 or so comments on the initial post I wrote about the Minnesota Vikings drafting quarterback Christian Ponder.

I've seen the 700-plus on Saturday's draft analysis, which nominated Ponder as the best pick of the NFC North's draft.

And I just got finished reading the hundreds of notes sent to the mailbag.

Christian Ponder
Christian Ponder was the fourth quarterback off the board at No. 12 overall.
I get it. You're not on board. You have your usual suspicions. I chose Matt of Boston's comment as a eloquent representative sample of your thoughts.
I usually empathize with how difficult your job is in objectively covering an entire division when you have allegiances to one of the teams. And usually, you do as good a job as could be expected in this regard.

But this most recent post about the NFC Norris draft recap was blatant homerism. The "best move" was your hometown Vikes choosing the 4th QB in the draft 15+ picks before most mocks had him going? And your defense is that "when matters more than who?" So by that logic, who lines up behind center matters less than that he was picked in 2011.

Granted, their QB depth chart is abysmal, but when a hometown writer calls it the best pick in the division when most call it a reach, and history tells us a 1st round QB is a 50/50 grab bag, and many believe they'll still need to get a veteran QB to play this year? Sounds more like the hope of a fan, than remotely objective analysis. You mention that Spielman and Frazier's credibility will be tied to the Ponder pick... you've managed to do the same.

There's no sense in trading haymakers on the "blatant homerism" issue, something I found long ago is an emotion-based argument that I'll never sway. But let me simply reiterate two ideas I was consistent on through the weekend before moving on to a post on other draft issues.
  1. Quarterback is the most important position in sports. If you don't have one, and a long-term fix is far preferable to a short-term fix, then you're not going anywhere. The Vikings were faced with the temptation of once again ignoring this need and pushing it to another year. It was the toughest decision any NFC North team faced in this draft, and I thought it was the right one. Ponder is not a sure-fire prospect. Those come once in a generation. But a good coaching staff can mold and develop a prospect with potential.
  2. The Detroit Lions made three great picks at the top of their draft. But they also took a significant risk in leaving their cornerback position, especially, unaddressed. There are other ways to fill that need, namely free agency, but the risk is that they won't have control over their options in free agency. Few teams let starting-quality cornerbacks depart via free agency unless the financial demands of the player are unreasonable. As illustrated in the trade up for running back Mikel Leshoure, there are ways to manipulate the draft to acquire a targeted player/position if it's important enough to you.

Now, onward and upward....