Toughness/Leadership: A mentally and physically tough young man, who has some durability concerns. Suffered a few serious injuries to his throwing arm during his college career. In 2009, he was diagnosed with a grade-3 shoulder separation, and in 2010 he battled elbow injuries, that required multiple surgeries to fix. He’s an excellent leader of men, who commands the huddle and line of scrimmage, pre snap. Has no reservations about leading vocally or by example. Is a team captain, and takes his role as such seriously.
Intelligence/Decision Making: Highly intelligent quarterback who is inconsistent at showcasing it on the field. Understands the passing game well and can read defenses. Displays the ability to walk up to the line, make pre snap adjustments, and recognize blitzers. However, once the ball is snapped, he shows some deficiencies. He tends to glue his eyes to his primary target, avoiding going through his progressions, which in turn keys defensive backs to where the ball is going. When his primary target is well covered, he’ll come off of him and throw the ball blind to another receiver, before reading it. He’s prone to forcing throws and making poor decisions late in games. Gets over zealous at times and takes unnecessary risks. Seems to have adequate processing speed. When a receiver works themselves open, he sees it and gets the ball out. When faced with pressure, he makes snappy decisions with the ball and commits to either running or stepping up into the pocket.
Accuracy: Displays above average timing and short to intermediate accuracy. He puts the ball between the numbers and on the frames of his receivers. Demonstrates the ability to anticipate receivers breaks, and gets the ball out accurately to them. Also shows the aptness to direct his passes. Excels at throwing receivers open. Against zone defense, his accuracy really shines. He can pick them apart with ease. Throws with good touch, which makes his ball easily catchable at all levels of the field. On deep routes, he struggles to pin point the ball. With his throwing arm injuries, he lacked sufficient arm strength to get the ball down field accurately. Balls often came out as floaters, hung in the air, and missed their target.
Release/Arm Strength: Uses an over-the-top release with sound throwing mechanics. Has a quick release and puts good spin on the ball. Due to the shoulder and elbow injures he endured, his arm strength wained some his senior year. He had some difficulties with hitting on the deep outs and digs. Prior to those injuries, he showed good arm strength. His arm wouldn’t be categorized as a cannon, but it wouldn’t be categorized as a water pistol either. When at full health, he can make all the throws. Puts good zip on in-breaking routes, and enough oomph on sideline routes.
Pocket Mobility: Isn’t the freak athlete that some of the other quarterbacks are, but possesses good athletic ability. Has good awareness in the pocket. Knows when to slide his feet, or bail out. Displays quick feet when doing so. Can effectively execute rollouts and bootlegs. Does a nice job of extending plays, allowing receivers to work themselves open. Shows a good amount of burst to pull away from defenders nipping at his heels. If nothing is open down field, he has the agility and speed to take off and pick up first downs. Moves exceptionally well when performing ball fakes. Sells the play not only with his fakes, but with his feet.
Intangibles: Overall a good guy. A team captain who is incredibility smart. Is fully dedicated to his education. Has already earned a Masters degree in finance, and is currently working on his Doctorate. No off the field issues to my knowledge.
Overall Stock: Christian Ponder isn’t considered amongst the elite quarterbacks in the NFL Draft. He’s apart of the second group of guys (Andy Dalton, Colin Kaeperknick, Ricky Stanzi). He’s already gotten off to a good start this offseason. He showed well at the Senior Bowl and won MVP of the game. I was impressed with his ability. It looked as if the injuries were no longer plaguing him, and his arm strength was back. He still has some things to work on, such as his decision making. If he can improve upon that, I think he’ll be a fine NFL quarterback. I like that he has experience from under center, and running a pro-style offense. I also like his mental makeup and toughness. He’s been through some adversity, and managed to stay a-course. He has some impalpable characteristics as well. His leadership and intelligence are things that make guys into successful NFL quarterbacks. He doesn’t possess the arm strength of a Matthew Stafford, or the precise accuracy of Sam Bradford, but he is adequate enough in both departments to start at the next level. I think he’ll start getting looks in the second round, especially from teams like the 49ers, Redskins, Titans, and Vikings.
NFL Comparisons: Shaun Hill