It is believed to be the pulse of your organization.  With today’s NFL game taking to the air, the quarterback position is more essential than ever.  There are two ways to grab the cornerstone of your team, either via trade or via draft.  However you do it, NFL teams are desperately trying to find their quarterback of the future.  Minnesota Viking fans, as well as the organization itself are wondering if they found their guy in Christian Ponder.  Only time will tell.    

The 2011 NFL draft had an onslaught of quarterbacks taken within the first 12 picks.  An almost “monkey see, monkey do,” approach was taking form when one quarterback after another were surprising being drafted in the first round.  After seeing three potential franchise quarterbacks taken with the 11 picks proceeding before them, the Vikings, for whatever reason, decided to pull the trigger on their franchise changer and drafted Ponder out of Florida State University.  A sort of knee-jerk reaction was expressed throughout the land of 10,000 lakes, and a sort of, “this is the guy?” feeling started to form. 

Not to take anything away from Ponder, who was a successful quarterback at FSU, throwing for 49 touchdowns and posting a 61.8 completion percentage in three seasons at Tallahassee.  But spending a top 15 pick on a guy who dealt with his fair share of injuries, and didn’t blow the college football scene away by any means, was a little risky.  Nevertheless, Ponder was selected to back up free agent signee Donovan Mcnabb and eventually be the Vikes QB of the future. 

After a less than stellar opening to the season, Mcnabb was benched in lieu of Ponder.  The rookie showed some up-side in the 2011 season, but also made some head –scratching decisions that suggested he might not be fit for the job.  Ponder finished the season throwing 13 touchdowns to 13 interceptions, while having a mediocre 70.1 passer rating.  In all fairness, Ponder was a 23-year-old rookie, playing for a dismal team during a lockout shorten season.    

So the question remains, is Christian Ponder the Vikings quarterback of the future?  The 2013 season will be a perfect indicator on whether or not Ponder will continue to wear purple and gold.  A similar or not much improved season from last year might prove fatal for the young gun slinger. 

With the help of free agency and the draft, the Vikings were able to strengthen some of their weaknesses at receiver and offensive line.  Jerome Simpson gives Ponder a large target to go along with the speedy Percy Harvin.  Rookie Matt Kalil should immediately help a depleted offensive line, keeping Ponders jersey a lot cleaner than it was last year.  But the injury to Adrian Peterson will limit his role in the early part of the season.  This will prompt the offense to rely heavily on second year running back Toby Gerhart, who has shown potential, but nothing close to having star quality.

Much of a players NFL success has to do with being put in the right situation, and unfortunately, Ponder was not placed in one.  Ponder has the tools to become a successful quarterback in the NFL, if placed on the right team.  His strong arm and mobility makes him a very attractive player.  But poor decision making and his uncanny ability of being hit in the pocket which leads to injury indicates he might not last long in the league, especially playing for the Vikes.  Two years removed from a sudden-death loss in the NFC Championship game, the Vikings are in more of a rebuilding process than a retooling one. 

Ponder is the type of QB that would best fit in a back-up roll, learning from a veteran and eventually taking over a team.  The “throwing him into the fire” technique was a decision the Vikings had to make, especially when looking at their alternatives, Joe Webb, who actually replaced Ponder in two games.  This technique can work for quarterbacks like Cam Newton, one’s with star qualities, something that Ponder doesn’t possess.  It seems all too familiar, Ponder isn’t ready to lead a mediocre team to success, and he will inevitably bounce around to other mediocre teams and won’t be able to solidify himself as a reliable quarterback.  If the Vikings fall below five wins again this season, they need to start looking elsewhere for their future quarterback.  Sure Ponder could pull a Brad Johnson or Trent Dilfer and lead a team to a Super Bowl.  But those success come few and far between and only on Hall of Fame worthy defenses.  It was a reach in 2011 and unless 2013 proves otherwise, the Vikings should be in the market for a new quarterback.