Most of you recall ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer's visceral reaction this spring when the Minnesota Vikings drafted quarterback Christian Ponder with the No. 12 overall pick. Dilfer painted Ponder as a pretty-looking quarterback who doesn't stand in the pocket and make tough, accurate and clutch throws when under pressure.
So it was worth checking back with Dilfer after Ponder's first two NFL starts drew wide praise for his poise, especially on third down. In this ESPN Insider piece on rookie quarterbacks, Dilfer said he is impressed "thus far" with Ponder, specifically mentioning his mobility, "arm talent" and ability to find windows in the zone.
Dilfer qualifies his assessment in this way:
The question now is still the one I had of him when he was drafted, however. Ponder may throw well on the run, but is he resorting to the run too quickly? Quarterbacks in this league don't simply take off, they move with a purpose, and a lot of that is stepping up, or side to side in very subtle fashion, having a sense of the chaos around you and which way it's moving. Ponder still needs to show that he can get past Stage 2, and react to what defenses are trying to do, as they'll clearly start to adjust. He's helped because with Adrian Peterson in the backfield, teams can't really make Ponder the main target of the defense, but they can certainly adjust for what he does well. The question is whether he can adjust back. It's too early to tell just now.
The nation will have an opportunity to make its own judgment Monday night.