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Vikings Gab Grades the Teams Picks in the 2011 Draft

By Abe Munch

1st- Christian Ponder, QB, Florida State
2nd- Kyle Rudolph, TE, Notre Dame
4th- Christian Ballard, DE, Iowa
5th- Brandon Burton, CB, Utah
6th- DeMarcus Love, OG, Arkansas
6th- Mistral Raymond, CB/S, South Florida
6th- Brandon Fusco, OG, Slippery Rock
6th- Ross Homan, LB, Ohio State
7th- D’Aundre Reed, DE, Arizona
7th- Stephen Burton, WR, Texas A&M

Synopsis: The Vikings hoped to find a long term answer at quarterback to replace Brett Favre, while also adding youth to their overall defense. After making Christian Ponder the face of the franchise they immediately provided him with a safety valve in Kyle Rudolph. They then proceeded to spend five of their next eight picks on defense.

Best Selection: Kyle Rudolph. The only thing preventing Rudolph from being a top tier tight end in the NFL is health. He has great hands, runs great routes, and has prototype size and strength for the position.

Biggest Risk:
Christian Ponder. For me, Christian Ponder draws similarities to Trent Edwards (a 3rd round pick). Both have very good mechanics, footwork in the pocket, good athleticism, played in pro style offenses, and throw beautiful deep touch passes. Both are also injury prone, lack an aggressive mentality, and weren’t dominant passers at the collegiate level. Fortunately for Ponder, he’s being drafted by a team with a strong supporting cast and a solid offensive line to start with. The same couldn’t be said for Trent Edwards when he was drafted.

Sleeper: Ross Homan. Homan will be playing in a similar coverage scheme he played in at Ohio State. He’s a tough, gap disciplined linebacker, who won’t miss many tackles. The potential is there for him to grow into a starting role under head coach Leslie Frazier.

Grade: B
I thought Minnesota did a good job after selecting Christian Ponder. Players like Christian Ballard, Brandon Burton, DeMarcus Love, and Ross Homan were very productive starters in college and fit Leslie Frazier’s offensive and defensive systems.

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25 Responses to “Vikings Gab Grades the Teams Picks in the 2011 Draft”

  1. Malte says:

    When reading this it’s hard not to completely agree.
    I think Brandon Burton will be a solid player for the vikings in some packages, but I also see Brandon Fusco perhaps being able to bring some much needed competetion to our center spot + Ballard might get a lot of work early on.

  2. Zag says:

    I love the Ballard, Fusco, and Homan picks. I’m excited about Mistral Raymond too, he’s my dark horse to take a safety spot in the offseason.

    Personally, I think the only team that drafted better than us is the Giants. Their draft class is star after star. We got a lot of high-value sleepers that will pay off next year if not immediately.

  3. Lost Viking says:

    The first round selection #12 represented two-thirds of Viking 2011 draft value allocation. Clearly, Christian Ponder’s selection represents the greatest risk.

    The Bengal believe they drafted a better QB at # 35 in Andy Dalton. Seahawk decided took a look but decided to pass on Dalton at #25.

    Viking appear to have made a series of critical mistakes.
    1) They offered a package of low round choices to Cowboy to move up. Jones said he nearly traded down. What would have made the trade was a package with similar value but included Vikings 2nd rounder, ie. Vike 2nd for Cowboy 3rd and 4th round etc.
    2) Viking couldn’t do much about moving up for #10 as Jaguar actually paid a premium for Gabbert. However, at #12 Viking could not execute a trade to move down. There was interest in Fairley but we didn’t have trade partner. If Viking saw similar potential in Dalton it was worth the risk of trading down to low 20’s in exchange for more picks
    3) There appeared confusion in the room over draft priorities. At #12 Viking should have had broad choices. Instead the Gabbert pick immediately crystalized Ponder as the only option for Frazier/Musgrave. This wasn’t about Ponder’s abilities but relates to NFL’s labor situation and need to get a QB ready.

    All Viking fan wish the best result from the Ponder selection. Tice&Co. botched the Kevin Williams draft but we came away with the best player. But we shouldn’t go into a future draft with the same organizational ineptitude displayed last week

    • Murgo says:

      “Lost” just about sums it up. That and “broken record”. Is Gabbert a 2nd round pick better than Ponder to you? To me, I don’t think he is better at all. And Dalton is nowhere near the level of Ponder, even at “20”, somehow magically making it a good pick. It is the player that dictates the position and not vice versa. Dalton was a reach in Round 2. He was a 3rd and even 4th rounder pre-draft hype. Ponder was a Heisman worthy candidate and would have been at the top of draft boards were it not for his “injuries”.

      But please go on as one never tires of hearing how the FO “panicked”, “screwed up”, “made critical mistakes”, and the like. Even if none of it is true. Sheesh.

    • Fragile Freds says:


      You’ve confused your old pal Fragile. You indicate critical errors made on draft day. What were they? The Vikes thought more of Ponder than Dalton, why would they not go with Ponder at one instead of hoping Dalton was there at 2? Time will tell if this is a good move or not, but if they felt Ponder wouldn’t last until 2, why would they settle for a lesser QB in Dalton? QB is the most important position on the field, we needed to take the best at that point in the draft. It was a choice (might be right or wrong, time will tell ) we don’t know if it is an critical error or not at this point.

      What indicators did you have that there was confusion in the room during draft day?

      Freds thinks that you can go through every team and second guess moves made after the draft is done. We know many of the answers at that point. On draft day, risks are taken, trades are made without knowing all the facts that come out after the draft.

      The Vikes have drafted well since Rich Spielman has been here, not perfect, but upper tier. Freds will wait and see if this one turns out.

  4. c.carterhof says:

    “Fortunately for Ponder, he’s being drafted by a team with a strong supporting cast and a solid offensive line to start with.”

    There is strong supporting cast with the playmakers, (AP, Cheech, maybe Rice, Shank and Rudolph) but solid OL?

  5. Trenno478 says:

    This was a great draft overall IMO, we got guys who will contribute across the board from the first to the seventh round.. Look at the late picks we wasted in last years draft.. I still can’t believe some of those selections last year ie Nate Triplett.. And Totally agree that Rudolph was the best selection, he has all the tools to be a stud TE in purple for the next decade..

    After the ponder pick we stayed true to our board and filled needs at the same time. Got some quality starters from good programs who could well be starters down the road. I’m glad we didn’t trade up to get gabbert, looking back we would’ve had to give up too much and there’s no telling how successful he will be transitioning from a spread system to a pro-style in the NFL.

    Not saying I was happy with the ponder pick at the time, but he has the talent around him to be successful if he can utilise it and his numbers in the red zone and on 3rd-down are impressive, he just needs to stay healthy. I’m optimistic that Ponder can be a successful NFL QB if given the time.

    • krugjr says:

      well written, Trenno……I believe you do know your football…and your team!

    • sb says:

      I agree with you trenno accept on Gabbert. I think he’s a far better qb than ponder with a higher ceiling, I know he didn’t play in a prostyle offesne but they also said the same thing about clausen and bradford. Gabbert is a natural athlete, I don’t think it would have been as difficult for him to adapt to the pro style offense as some make it out. As for compensation I think us trading our 2nd for the cowboys 3rd would have been fair, but not just a 2nd without getting anything in return.

      • Trenno478 says:

        Yeh sb, I can see where your coming from and Gabbert does have a high ceiling.. But there have been plenty of prospects at QB who have had high ceilings and untapped potential who have flamed out.. I guess time will tell, Gabbert is in a situation where he can succeed being able to sit behind Garrard and learn the system and adapt to a Pro-style offense..

    • mike b says:

      All good points, it comes down to this we would have had to give our second round value pick to get Gabbert, so is (1)Ponder and (1)Rudolph
      worth (1)Gabbert?

  6. Murgo says:

    Christian Ponder. For me, Christian Ponder draws similarities to Trent Edwards (a 3rd round pick). Both have very good mechanics, footwork in the pocket, good athleticism, played in pro style offenses, and throw beautiful deep touch passes. Both are also injury prone, lack an aggressive mentality, and weren’t dominant passers at the collegiate level.

    Say what? Injury prone? Ponder hurt his shoulder tackling McDaniels after an interception. His first injury. He is as aggressive, both physically and mentally, as they come. He wins with his head and his arm, but has the legs and athleticism to boot. He rushed for more TDs than Gabbert. As for dominant passers, how much more dominant would you have like him to be? How many FSU players got drafted this year? Shouldn’t that tell you how much help he had and how much he carried his team?

    • Fragile Freds says:

      Bad elbow last year as well Freds thinks.

      Your old pal wouldn’t classify him as injury prone either. Let us hope that Ponder learns the QB position at the pro level and stays in the pocket to learn the game, even if this means pics and sacks early in his career. Dude needs to read defenses. The Fla State offense was a simple one, it doesn’t mean he can’t learn more, but he will have to learn on the fly. We don’t need him running, we need him learning the game and executing the QB position.

      Free agency needs to bring us O line support.

    • HeHateMe says:

      The thing about Ponder is he is exceptionally smart in the classroom. But apparently he is dumb on the field. The tackle he made when he hurt his shoulder was great from a competitive viewpoint, but from the leader of your team for the season to put his throwing shoulder in harms way is just dumb.

      I hope that he can get over this flaw because he does the Vikings no good sitting on the sidelines.

      Next step is to improve the awful offensive line. No scheme or coaching change is going to magically make the line better. Three fifths of the line is old and fading and the other two fifths may not ever get better. We can only hope that they do for Ponder’s sake.

  7. Lost Viking says:

    Freddie, you’re quite right about my ‘confusion in the room’ comment.
    How did anybody without access to the room know what went down in those crucial minutes around the the Ponder pick?

    I’m only judging from the comments made by participants in the many interviews after the fact. I agreed with Adam and others that internal reactions were mixed and varied. It wasn’t particularly smart of Frazier to appoint Ponder his game one QB, for example.

    Nonetheless, we weren’t in the room so there might have a been a surprising amount of unanimity when Spielman suggested the phone wasn’t ringing so they better just go ahead and pick a QB at #12 because he wouldn’t be there at #43.

  8. Fragile Freds says:


    “It wasn’t particularly smart of Frazier to appoint Ponder his game one QB, for example.”

    Agree with you.

    Welcome to the world of being a head coach Leslie where everything you say is measured and analyzed. Denzel seems like a great guy and Freds is pulling for him, we will see how he is as a head coach. It’s really no wonder coaches (and players for that matter) try to say nothing to the media when they speak. Every comment is a land mine for future grilling.

    Leslie, repeat after your old pal Freds:

    * Our guys gave 110%
    * It’s gut check time
    * On any given Sunday
    * The refs are humans too
    * There is no I in team
    * Minnesota has the greatest fans, the 12th man was great today
    * No one has a guaranteed spot on the roster, everyone will compete for their job.
    * Asher Allens has blazing speed. It’s just not blazing enough.
    * Sure I understand Pat William when he speaks, who doesn’t?
    * Of course Ray Edward will be the heavy weight champion of the world
    * Yes, Brad Childress has a full head of hair
    * No problem, Joe Webb could jump over 23 blue gym mats.

    As usual Freds is starting to veer…. enough of this.

  9. moses says:

    Pick up Mcknight from South Dakota State great center for that team

  10. Lost Viking says:

    This running back was Onterrio Smith long before Onterrio became the player we knew. Don’t know if anybody recalls Mack Herron but he was one of the first successful small backs. This was well before Barry Sanders or Emmitt Smith.

    He only made it to the NFL with Patriot due to a players strike and after he had ripped up the CFL. Pint size guy with a huge talent. Then he disappeared just as quickly as he arrived but everybody knew he was bad news off-the-field.

    Just another sad story. Still can remember being amazed a guy this small could be such a power back. Onterrio Smith was similar back but Mack Herron was the real deal

  11. Fragile Freds says:

    Here’s some HD video of Mack.

    It is kind of sad.

    Dude got arrested 20 times? Good golly man.

    • titan concrete says:

      WOW! That dude could rip! Plus he had great vision…. he was constantly switching which hand the ball was in well before a defender got to him. Its a shame that these players that were the foundation of the current NFL are broke, and these rookies can come in and sign multi-million dollar contracts before their first snap.

  12. Lost Viking says:

    From John Clayton’s column….

    ‘Falcon still need a pass-rushing defensive end. If the NFL eventually must implement the 2010 free-agency system — in which players need six years to become unrestricted — the Falcon may have to work a trade, further dipping into their draft-choice reserve. The pass-rusher to follow is Ray Edwards of the Viking. If the 2010 system is in place, maybe the Falcon can trade wide receiver Michael Jenkins to get Edwards, who would be a restricted free agent.’

    Note: Both Musgrave and George Stewart, Viking receiver coach, coached Michael Jenkin in Atlanta. (Assuming Stewart is still Viking receiver coach??)

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