Player Profile #56 – QB Christian Ponder

Christian Ponder has three college degrees that he earned over the last five years at Florida State. So picking up an offensive playbook and being able to handle the transition to running an NFL offense. Ponder will get that chance after he gets drafted, probably in the late first or second round.

“If you look at the game in general, a lot of it is mental,” said Ponder. “My intelligence kind of helped me learn the playbook pretty quickly and allows me to study a defense and take in more information. The habits you develop in the classroom definitely transfer over to the study habits of watching film and getting ready for the game.”

Here’s the quarterback’s story.

FAMILY BUSINESS

CHRISTIAN PONDER

Born – February 25, 1988 in Dallas, Texas

Family – parents are David and Christine Ponder. Dad played at Florida State as a defensive lineman (1980-83) and finished his college career with 131 total tackles and 14 sacks. He played four games with the Dallas Cowboys in the 1985 season at defensive tackle. He shared a sack in that time.

BODY OF WORK

  • Height – 6-feet, 2 inches.
  • Weight – 229 pounds.
  • Arm – 32¼ inches.
  • Hand – 10¼ inches.
  • 40-yard dash – 4.63 seconds.
  • 20-yard dash – 2.62 seconds.
  • 10-yard dash – 1.57 seconds.
  • Bench press – Did not lift.
  • Vertical jump – 34 inches.
  • Broad jump – 9-feet, 8 inches.

HIGH SCHOOL

Ponder was part of the graduating class of 2006 at Colleyville Heritage High School that is part of the Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District that serves Colleyville, Texas. It’s a northern suburb of Ft. Worth that’s in view of the DFW-Airport.

He started for two years in the Panthers program for head coach Chris Cunningham.

2005 – CHHS finished the season 6-5 and Ponder threw for 2,214 yards and 20 TDs, running for 911 yards and 12 TDs.

2004 – Ponder threw for 1,500 yards and 7 TDs as the Mustangs had a 4-6 record.

RECRUITING

Considered a three-star recruit by most of the major talent evaluation services, Ponder received scholarship offers from Florida State, Baylor, Georgia Tech, Iowa State, North Carolina and TCU. He committed to the Seminoles in July 2005.

COLLEGE

Ponder graduated with a degree in business administration at Florida State University in 2008, posting a 3.73 undergraduate GPA. He earned a Masters degree of business administration in May 2010 with a graduate GPA of 3.703. He was working on a graduate degree in sports management during the season.

He was named one of 16 recipients of the National Football Foundation’s Scholar-Athlete award which comes with an $18,000 stipend for post-graduate education. He was also named the 2010 James Tatum Award winner, an honor that goes to the top senior ACC student-athlete.

2010 – An elbow problem with a swollen bursa sac caused him problems all season, forcing the elbow to be drained off fluid three different times.

2009 – Started the first 8 games of the season before suffering a separated right shoulder that cost him the rest of the season.

2008 – Started all 13 games after beating out returning starter Drew Weatherford. The Seminoles finished 9-4 and won the Champs Sports Bowl with a victory over Wisconsin. Ponder was named the team’s MVP on offense.

2007 – Ponder served as the backup to Weatherford. He saw action against Virginia Tech when Weatherford as injured, completing 8 of 18 for 105 yards and a TD.

2006 – Redshirt season.

INJURIES

2009 – Ponder separated his right shoulder making a tackle following an interception he threw against Clemson. He suffered what was diagnosed as a Grade 3 AC separation. He had surgery two weeks after suffering the injury.

“I’m definitely frustrated,” Ponder said at the time. “I spent, what, 10 months or whatever since last year getting ready for the season, and to see it go down the drain like this is difficult.”

2010 – He injured the bursa sac on his throwing arm in the middle of last season and battled the problem the rest of the way. He underwent minor elbow surgery, and his arm strength and accuracy were definitely affected by the injury.

When the regular season ended, Ponder had a second surgery on his elbow and returned in time for Florida State’s bowl game. But he ended up getting knocked out of that game with a concussion.

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT

Ponder has distinguished himself in the community. He is currently serving as the president of the Red Cross ‘Noles and remains active with the Leon County Animal Shelter, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, United Way of the Big Bend, American Cancer Society and Children’s Miracle Network, among other organizations. He regularly speaks to school children in the Tallahassee area, stressing the importance of academics

Year

G

S

Att

Cp

Pct

Yds

TD

INT

2010

12

12

299

184

61.5%

2,044

20

8

2009

9

9

330

227

68.8%

2,718

14

7

2008

13

13

318

177

55.7%

2,006

14

13

2007

1

0

18

8

44.4%

105

1

2

2006

RS

 

0

0

0

0

0

0

Totals

35

34

965

596

61.8%

6,873

49

30

He ran 296 times for 833 yards and 10 touchdowns.

EVALUATION FOR PRO FOOTBALL

Strengths – Ponder is a very good athlete and he has the mentality of a quarterback. Arm strength is average at best, but he makes up for that lack of power with intelligence and a quick delivery. He’s an accurate passer, whether in the pocket or on the run. Ponder is probably the most consistent throwing QB in this year’s draft class. He’s very technically sound in throwing mechanics and has quiet feet. As a field general, he’s calm, cool and collected and takes control of the huddle and the situation. He understands defenses and does a very good job of reading coverages. He’s maxed out on the tangible intangibles.

Weaknesses – His arm strength is mediocre, meaning it’s about that of most NFL quarterbacks. He can make all the throws, but the power and accuracy in his passes diminishes significantly the longer they are in the air. At times his patience wanes and he makes mistakes trying to force passes into tight areas with bad results. His availability/durability are in question because of his injury history.

Analysis – Everyone agrees Ponder has outstanding intangibles and won’t fail because of his smarts, instincts and character. The debate focuses on whether Ponder will get back to his pre-injury form of 2009 or whether he’ll be limited by the injuries he sustained in ’09-’10.

WHAT THE SCOUTS SAY

A scout for an AFC team said – “I really like this kid, but I know we are concerned about his injury history. I would l think that will keep him out of the first round.”

A scout for an NFC team said – “I’d prefer he be my son-in-law rather than my quarterback. Great kid, very smart, does not come across as cocky, just confident. But he’s not an elite talent. He needs the West Coast offense, to throw short, timing patterns.”

WHAT HE HAS TO SAY

“If you look at Colt McCoy, he’s starting for the Cleveland Browns right now. It’s all about seizing the opportunity. Wherever I get drafted, I hope I have the opportunity to show what I have and definitely take full advantage.”

“I try to keep a play going by scrambling and find another receiver or if the defense has dropped everyone in the zone and there’s no one open, I’ll just take off and find a running hole.”

WHAT OTHERS SAY

Former NFL head coach/now FOX-TV analyst Brian Billick – “When I watch Ponder play, he shows flashes of both Chris Simms and Colt McCoy, but the player he most reminds me of is Brodie Croyle who was selected 85th overall by the Kansas City Chiefs in 2006. Croyle and Ponder have similar arm strength, but I think Ponder’s mental capacity and patience as a passer elevate him into the top 50 of the draft.”

Buffalo GM Buddy Nix – “He played four years, he’s a smart guy, he came from a pro-style offense where he’s had to do the reads and he’s had to make the throws. He’s also a mobile guy. Christian Ponder’s got a lot of things going for him.”

DOES HE FIT WITH THE CHIEFS?

I think the Chiefs will be in the market for a quarterback during the 2011 Draft and Ponder will be a consideration. There’s so much to like about this guy, but that injury history nags and really makes that analysis by Brian Billick come alive when he compared Ponder to Brodie Croyle.

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