In 2011, four NFL teams drafted quarterbacks in the first twelve selections. No, it wasn’t the famed draft class of 1983, but more like the infamous class of 1999.
Cam Newton has had nominal success and took the NFL by storm with his rookie records and success. The three other quarterbacks are waiting to show what they can do.
That includes Minnesota’s Christian Ponder. While Minnesota made the playoffs last season, Ponder was not the main reason for the team’s success, and may not have been the reason at all (thank Adrian Peterson). Based on his performance last season, Ponder was not worthy of a first-round grade and could be as overrated as Akili Smith, Blaine Gabbert or Jake Locker.
As a disclaimer: I apologize for knocking my fellow FSU alum with such harsh words.
The Vikings have talent, a good offensive line and decent receivers to throw to. Peterson helps any team look great on paper, but that does not help Ponder with his composure and control in the huddle. And most of all, there is a reason the Vikings signed Matt Cassel as a backup and moved Joe Webb to receiver this offseason.
To be honest, while I was watching Ponder last season and wondering what he was doing on the field at times, I never thought about Harrison Smith and his play in the secondary.
At 6’2” and playing safety, Harrison, a rookie last season, was everything the Vikings wanted in a defender and then some.
According to Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com, Smith did his job last season.
“Smith combines big hitting with great coverage skills, an ideal combination for a deep safety. As the season wore on, Smith played faster and with more confidence as he read plays. But he rarely was out of place even early in the season,” he said.
And playing in a division like the NFC North, having the ability to cover tall, lanky receivers (Calvin Johnson, Brandon Marshall, Greg Jennings) is something the Vikings will need from him.
If Smith does the same things this season like he did last year, there is no reason to not believe he will become a household name and seek postseason honors.