Christian Ponder | Florida State
6’2″ | 229lbs
Accuracy: Can put the ball on a line to any spot on the field. Shows very good rotation on underneath passes and hits them consistently with good accuracy. Hits the receiver consistently in the same location on the same routes. Showed at the Senior Bowl an ability to throw the deep out in a way that the defender cannot get to the ball without going through the receiver (low and outside). Will force the ball at times and can result in a shaky deep ball that might flutter to the inside.
Arm strength: One area that Ponder does not stand above his competitors is in arm strength. While he has enough arm strength to survive in the NFL, he will never blow a defense away with his deep ball. His arm is sufficient for short and mid-range routes, and he throws those with good zip and rotation. The deep ball can flutter at times and might lose zip in flight.
Athleticism/mobility: Is much more athletic than he is given credit for. Is a mobile passer with the ability to make plays on the move. Displays very good vision when moving. Has enough speed to make defensive linemen miss and can outrun them to the corner. Can be too eager to run the ball, and will expose himself to big hits. Must learn to slide, or head for the sidelines.
Decision making: Is a very smart quarterback, both in the classroom and on the field. Has been hot-and-cold reading defenses in his career. Can get in a habit of staring down his receivers, especially throwing left.
Field vision: Ponder can improve here with proper NFL coaching and training. Does not do a great job of looking off the safety and can get lost in playaction. Must do a better job settling down late in games and not forcing throws. Tries to be a hero too often, which in 2010 resulted in late-game interceptions.
Mechanics: Has a very quick drop and set-up. Shows a compact delivery with a solid over-the-top delivery that shows no wasted movements. Keeps the ball up, near his ear when throwing. Has shown good footwork in his drop step, his release and follow through. Squares his shoulders well and adjusts nicely when moving in the pocket or outside of it. His throwing mechanics are near flawless.
Pocket awareness/poise: Is a very confident player, and it shows in his awareness and how he carries himself. Is willing to step up in the pocket to make throws. Does not always feel backside pressure and can get blasted from his blindside.
Final word: You have to worry about the injuries. He suffered a third-degree separation of his throwing shoulder in 2009 and has experienced issues with a bursa sac injury. He also had a concussion in 2010. While Ponder appeared healthy this offseason, the injuries certainly add up.
Ponder is by all appearances a late first-round pick in the 2011 class. He has the tools to be a starter in the NFL, if he can stay healthy. He comes from a pro-style offense where he was asked to make reads, handle play calls and read the entire field. Compared with his experience as a starter at Florida State, this makes Ponder the most NFL-ready of any quarterback in this class.