What about Christian Ponder and the Vikings?


The NFC North is probably the best division in football from top to bottom, when you look at teams like the Packers, Lions, and Bears who are all legitimate Super Bowl contenders. The Minnesota Vikings may not be in that discussion quite yet, but they have an improved team, and if they are healthy, they could be a lot better than most people think.

Many underestimate the value of a good left tackle in the NFL, and the Vikings upgrading from Charlie Johnson to Matt Kalil is a significant move for the team, and they have added some intriguing pieces to their offensive weaponry.

In addition to getting back superstar running back Adrian Peterson (the freak who is months ahead of torn knee rehab schedule) the Vikings also signed former Bengals receiver Jerome Simpson, tight end John Carlson, and they drafted Greg Childs and Jarius Wright, two playmakers at the receiver position from Arkansas. They also have yet to unleash last year’s seventh round pick and athletic freak Stephen Burton out of West Texas A&M, who last year ran a 4.38 at 6’2″ 221 pounds. A great 40 time does not equal to being a great football player, but Burton had over 1,000 yards receiving in his final college season and could be ready for the big time.

Of course, none of this will matter if Christian Ponder does not develop as expected. He looked pretty inconsistent in limited duty last year, but  the fact of the matter is I saw Ponder make some incredible plays for the Vikings, and he could certainly emerge this year as one of the top 20 quarterbacks in the league if he isn’t already.

Ponder has a strong, accurate arm and good athletic ability to make plays outside the pocket with his legs. If he develops like I think he can, the Vikings could be a much stronger team in 2012 than a lot of people think. We tend to forget that in last year’s pretty horrible season, the Vikings were marred with injuries, quarterback controversies, and early-season late game collapses. In fact, the Vikings lost nine-NINE-games last year by seven points or fewer, many of those against playoff teams like Green Bay, Detroit, and Denver.

What the Vikings really need is to get a full season of chemistry between Ponder, Peterson, and the passing and running game. If those two can gel together, this could be a dangerous team capable of knocking good teams off at inopportune times.