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Tag:Christian Ponder
Posted on: April 18, 2011 11:30 pm
 

Seattle Seahawks Draft Preview

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
   2010 record: 7-9, first place NFC West
 
2011 draft rundown
   Eight total picks -- 25th overall (1st round), 57 (2nd), 99 (4th), 156 (5th), 157 (5th), 173 (6th), 209 (7th), 242 (7th)
 
Top needs
   Offensive Line -- With 10 different starting offensive line combinations last year, coach Pete Carroll said improving the talent up front remains a priority this offseason. The only player guaranteed to return to his starting role of a year ago is left tackle Russell Okung, who flashed the ability to be a standout player during his ten games last season. Former starting guard Max Unger could slide over to center , if the Seahawks elect to allow free agent Chris Spencer leave. Right tackle Sean Locklear is also a free agent who may play elsewhere in 2011.
   Quarterback -- Former Pro Bowler Matt Hasselbeck is 35 and expected to test the free agent waters. Both he and the team have expressed interest in his finishing his career in Seattle, though it is unknown if the team is willing to spend big dollars on an aging quarterback when the club is clearly rebuilding. The Seahawks paid dearly for backup Charlie Whitehurst in an off-season trade last year, but the veteran showed little during his limited opportunities. Regardless of how the Seahawks feel about Whitehurst, adding a young quarterback to groom for the future is a priority. 
   Defensive Line -- The Seahawks' defensive line played surprisingly well early last season, but the unit's lack of ideal depth was exposed when injuries to starting defensive end Red Bryant and defensive tackles Colin Cole and Brandon Mebane occurred. Mebane is a free agent and was surprisingly only given a third round tender by the club.
   Cornerback -- The Seahawks gave up 31 touchdowns through the air last season, tied for third-worst in the league, and allowed an average of 250 passing yards during last year's regular season, 25th overall. Veteran cornerback Marcus Trufant turns 31 this year, he struggled with injuries for a second straight season in 2010 and is due to make $5.8 million in base salary this season. Seattle's other starting corner from last season, Kelly Jennings, is a free agent this year.
 
First-round focus
   25th overall
   -- With holes throughout their roster and a stated goal from head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider to improve along both lines, the Seahawks have plenty of options at No. 25, which could lead them to trade down. The team is likely to strongly consider any of the top offensive or defensive linemen available, with defensive tackles Corey Liuget and Phil Taylor especially attractive considering the precarious status of Brandon Mebane. Cornerback Jimmy Smith is also an intriguing option considering that the 6-2, 210 pound Colorado star is a perfect schematic fit for Carroll's press coverage scheme. Depth along the offensive line is good enough in the 2011 draft that the Seahawks may be able to get away with waiting until the middle rounds before addressing this concern -- though the OL might just be the team's biggest need. Quarterback is also a critical need and the team may feel free pressured to nab one of the top West Coast Offense quarterbacks like TCU's Andy Dalton or Florida State's Christian Ponder with their first round pick. Neither is likely to be available when the Seahawks draft in the second round.
 
Five names on the Falcons' board
   CB Jimmy Smith, Colorado
   OT Nate Solder, Colorado
   DT Corey Liuget, Illinois
   DT Phil Taylor, Baylor
  QB Andy Dalton, TCU

Posted on: March 29, 2011 12:40 pm
 

Seahawks interest in Ryan Mallett legitimate?

The Seattle Seahawks will be flying in Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett to their team headquarters, according to a source.

I typically don't put a great deal of stock into the travels of prospects during this time of year. While it makes for interesting fodder, the reality is, the vast majority of players selected will NOT have been flown in for a visit with their new team prior to the draft.

That the Seahawks are bringing in Mallett, however, is interesting in a couple of different ways.

For one, Seahawks' General Manager John Schneider was at Mallett's Pro Day workout. This is believed to be the only Pro Day workout Schneider has attended so far this year.

Secondly, the Seahawks could be in considerable need of a quarterback. Incumbent starter Matt Hasselbeck is scheduled for free agency. Head coach Pete Carroll said last week at the Owners' Meetings that the Seahawks "made a run" at re-signing Hasselbeck prior to the lockout.

"Financially, we went after it and couldn't get it done," Carroll said. "In my mind, it kind of came right down to the final day of it. We made an effort and they made an effort."

The Seahawks have veteran Charlie Whitehurst waiting in the wings, but in limited duty in his first season with the Seahawks (six games). Whitehurst failed to impress. He did, however, help Seattle beat the St. Louis Rams in the final regular season game of the year, giving the Seahawks the NFC West divisional crown. With Hasselbeck healthy the next week, the Seahawks beat the Saints in the opening round of the playoffs befoe losing on the road at Chicago the next week.

Should the Seahawks be able to re-sign Hasselbeck or feel comfortable enough with Whitehurst as their starter, the team has plenty of quaterback options to consider. The team has previously been linked to several passes including Florida State's Chistian Ponder, TCU's Andy Dalton, Washington's Jake Locker and Nevada's Colin Kaepernick.

With the exception of Ponder, however, most of these quarterbacks are viewed as developmental prospects. Should Seattle be unable to re-sign Hasselbeck, find another veteran option to compete with Whitehurst or feel Whitehurst is not the answer, the Seahawks could feel pressure to draft a quarterback who could contribute immediately.

The only two quarterbacks likely to be available at Seattle's No. 25 pick who are considered "pro-ready" are Mallett and Ponder.

Ponder fits Seattle's West Coast Offense better, but at 6-2, 230 pounds and with a history of injuries, he is a gamble.

Mallett is unquestionably the more gifted prospect. But, of course, concerns about his on and off-field decision-making makes him evey bit the gamble, as well.

Posted on: March 16, 2011 8:47 pm
Edited on: March 16, 2011 9:10 pm
 

Losing a second chance

Today, Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder was the benefit of the NFL lockout.  The Associated Press reported that retired receiver Isaac Bruce stepped in to catch passes from Ponder due to a lack of senior Seminoles' receivers and the prohibition of current NFL wideouts from working out in the view of team scouts and coaches.

Ponder, who performed very well according to all reports, had an advantage few young passers get throwing to a potential Hall-of-Fame receiver in Bruce, who played 16 years and ranks seventh all-time in receptions (1,024), third in receiving yards (15,208), and ninth in receiving touchdowns (91).

But the lockout prevented former Seminoles, or other receivers out of football, from getting a second chance to impress scouts. It is not clear who would have participated if given the chance, but many times players trying to get back into the NFL by performing at a campus pro day (with the school's permission).

Running back Ryan Torain, for example, participated in Arizona State's pro day last spring to show scouts he was over the injuries that caused Denver to release him the previous fall (he was out the entire 2009 season). The Redskins took a chance on Torain this year, and he ran for 742 yards and four touchdowns in ten games--before injuries again limited him. But the team has already said he will get the first look as the starter in 2011, so the second chance the ASU alum received in the spring proved quite valuable.

Wednesday night, highly-rated quarterback Blaine Gabbert's former pass-catch partner at Missouri, and current St. Louis Ram, Danario Alexander tweeted that he "just got word that I can't go support my guys at there pro day... #lockoutsucks" What Alexander's tweet lacked in spelling correctness it made up for in exemplifying current players -- and certainly prospects -- frustration with the current labor situation.

--Contributed by NFLDraftScout.com Senior Analyst Chad Reuter
Posted on: March 5, 2011 12:21 pm
 

Poll of NFL sources finds gulf of opinion on QBs

Since the Combine ended Tuesday, I've been polling league sources on their rankings of the quarterbacks. I spoken or texted with seven sources (ranging from area scouts to front office executives) as of Saturday morning and have some interesting results.

In six of the seven cases, Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert were the top two rated quarterbacks. Four teams had Auburn's Newton as the top passer. Three had Gabbert. All three of the Gabbert fans noted, however, that his March 17 Pro Day would significantly impact their grade on him.

Interestingly enough, the same four teams that rated Newton No. 1 had Arkansas' Ryan Mallett ranked as the third QB -- with one exception. One of these clubs had the rankings had Mallett as the No. 2 passer behind Netwon. This source is obviously less concerned about the so-called character questions of these two SEC stars than other teams.

The wildcard of the QB rankings was Washington's Jake Locker. Three teams had Locker as the 3rd rated quarterback. The other four teams rated Locker 4th (two teams), 6th and 7th, respectively in this year's QB class.

The other QBs jumping ahead of Locker for these clubs were Florida State's Christian Ponder, TCU's Andy Dalton and Nevada's Colin Kaepernick.

Given the choice between "sure," "likely," and "unlikely" five of the seven sources thought it was "likely" that all seven of the quarterbacks made the first three rounds.

To put that in perspective, seven quarterbacks being drafted in the first three rounds has happened only twice in the past 40 years (excluding the USFL.CFL-impacted Supplemental Draft in 1984).

Teams are certainly hoping that this year's group will enjoy more NFL success than the past two classes that sent this many highly-graded quarterbacks to the pros. The 1999 class featured huge busts in Tim Couch, Akili Smith and Cade McNown, among others. Donovan McNabb and, to a lesser extent, Daunte Culpepper were the success stories of the class. With the exception of Jay Cutler (and to a lesser extent Vince Young, Tarvaris Jackson) the 2006 class has yet to establish itself, either.

Posted on: February 28, 2011 7:24 pm
 

Could five QBs wind up in the first round?

We all know the value of quarterbacks raises as the draft gets closer. We also all know that significantly altering a player's grade based on Combine performance is a quick way to get a scouting staff fired.

That said, there is an increasing belief among NFL teams that as many as five quarterbacks could wind up in the first round, following strong performances from Ryan Mallett, Jake Locker and Christian Ponder at the Combine.

Mallett unquestionably has first round skills. While his struggles at the podium in front of the media has been well documented, league sources tell our own Len Pasquarelli of The Sports XChange that teams who interviewed him in Indianapolis "came away impressed with him."

Locker, too, has unquestionable talent. His career-long struggles with inaccuracy remain a concern for many, but there was no denying he enjoyed a strong throwing session at the Combine, throwing some of his most accurate passes on the deep outs, fly routes and post-corners that are generally considered the toughest throws scouts ask quarterbacks to make at the Combine. Some teams will take this as evidence that he's made strides under former pro quarterback Ken O'Brien -- and is likely to continue to do so under NFL coaching.

Perhaps the most surprising quarterback generating recent first round buzz is Ponder. His multiple arm surgeries make his medical grade the most important result from the Combine (and teams won't have these complete results for awhile), but there is no question that the former Seminole is building momentum following a Senior Bowl MVP performance and a strong showing during passing drills. Considering his intelligence, mobility and accuracy to the short to intermediate levels of the field, Ponder is viewed by some as the top true West Coast Offense quarterback in the draft.

In last week's mock draft I had only two quarterbacks (Missouri's Blaine Gabbert and Auburn's Cam Newton) projected in the first round. With virtually every one of the front office executives and head coaches acknowleding during their Combine interviews the supreme value of the quarterback position and another two months for the hype around these three to build, we could end up seeing that number more than double by April 28.

Posted on: February 27, 2011 2:52 pm
 

Ponder out-shines Newton in 2nd QB session

Cam Newton entered the second throwing session of the Combine with all of the hype, but it was Florida State's Christian Ponder who stole the show.

Ponder showed surprising zip and very good accuracy throughout the throwing session, especially in the short to intermediate levels. His deep outs and post-corner routes were especially impressive.

Newton has all of the physical tools scouts are looking for, but showed that he is still in the early developmental stages in dropping back, transferring his weight and throwing passes accurately. This led to some of his throws -- especially timing routes like deep outs -- to sail on him.

We'll have more on the QB and WR drills as a feature article.
Posted on: January 29, 2011 2:59 pm
 

Don't put it past Locker to star in Sr Bowl

Washington's Jake Locker was the most scrutizined player in Mobile throughout this week's Senior Bowl practices.

The game will be no different -- except in one very key area.

I don't recall a single snap during the week of practice in which Locker ran with the ball. He clearly was attempting to put to bed concerns about his accuracy in the pocket. While he was unsuccessful in doing so, he also took away the element that makes him special.

Most of the mobile quarterbacks in the NFL lack elite accuracy. Their ability to buy time in the pocket or force secondary defenders to come up in run support and thereby leave their coverage responsibilities is precisely the skill that helps some passers succeed despite great accuracy.

Locker may have stuck in the pocket to his own detriment, at times, during the week of practice. In the game, however, his competitive juices could force him to vacate it -- especially if the South's defensive line is successful in rushing the passer -- as is the case in most all-star games, including last Saturday's East-West Shrine game.

This fact sets up the three most mobile passers in the Senior Bowl -- Locker, Nevada's Colin Kaepernick and Florida State's Christian Ponder -- to enjoy some success.

Kaepernick and Ponder have each helped themselves this week with strong performances. Sure, they'd like a strong finish to their week, but a ho-hum game will not hurt the impression they've already made on scouts.

Locker, however, has more riding on the game than the others due to his mediocre practices. That fact, as well as his re-discovered mobility could result in a strong, perhaps even MVP, performance.

The Senior Bowl will be televised by the NFL Network. It begins at 4 pm EST.
Posted on: January 25, 2011 7:57 pm
 

South Team Tuesday afternoon practice report

With Washington quarterback Jake Locker enjoying a strong bounce-back performance in this morning's North practice, the pressure was on the South's trio of passers to hold serve at the Senior Bowl.

Though TCU's Andy Dalton, Alabama's Greg McElroy and Florida State's Christian Ponder lack Locker's arm strength and athletic upside, their accuracy and ability to locate secondary target was nonetheless impressive.

Dalton was smooth dropping back from center - a question considering the fact that he took most of his snaps with the Horned Frogs out of the shotgun - and was able to survey the field and make generally accurate passes. He zipped the ball between defenders and showed good touch down the seam. Scouts say Dalton is helping himself this week with solid play, though inconsistent accuracy on the deep ball is a concern. Dalton wasn't asked to throw downfield often in for a TCU offense that relied often on screens and other timing-based short and intermediate routes.

It isn't often that a championship-winning quarterback can be characterized as an underrated NFL prospect, but that is precisely how I feel about McElroy. While much of the Crimson Tide's offense was based on their dual running threat of Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson, McElroy demonstrated the ability to drive the ball downfield while at Auburn and showed the same ability to surprise defenders with just enough zip to fit passes through closing spaces. Another aspect that is sure to impress scouts about McElroy is his ability to do the little things correctly. McElroy was able to move the South's safeties with his eyes and an effective pump-fake, creating wider throwing avenues to exploit.

McElroy's vision stood in contrast to Florida State's Christian Ponder. Ponder has a tendency to stare down his primary read and doesn't have the howitzer typically necessary to get away with against NFL coverage, especially after having undergone two arm surgeries in the past year.  He did, however, show a stronger and more accurate arm on his deep passes than either Dalton or McElroy, surprising more than a few talent evaluators today.

The South's quarterback enjoyed a solid, albeit unspectacular Tuesday afternoon practice despite less than ideal performances from many of their top receivers.

Abilene Christian's Edmond Gates, who left NFL scouts drooling with his deep speed Monday, was sidelined for Tuesday's practice with a pulled hamstring. Hawaii's Greg Salas, normally one of the more sure-handed receivers in the country, struggled with drops Tuesday. Scouts have questions about the 6-1, 206 pound Salas' speed and ability to make plays after the reception. Rather than suddenly forget how to catch, Salas appeared to be trying to make the defender miss before securing the pass.

Miami's Leonard Hankerson and South Alabama's Courtney Smith also struggled with a few drops Tuesday. Unfortunately, their drops were of the uglier variety. Each simply allowed too many passes into his chest, resulting in some bouncing off audibly. A bounce-back performance tomorrow would help the stock of both, though there certainly is a lot to like about the physicality, size (6-1, 205 and 6-4, 220, respectively) and upside of each.
The most impressive receiver for the South team Tuesday afternoon was TCU's Jeremy Kirley. At 5-09, 188 pounds, Kirley lacks the height scouts would prefer, but his quick feet and balance made him a tough draw for any cornerback. Kirley was a featured target of every South quarterback, not just his Horned Frog teammate, Dalton.

With a talented South offensive line doing a nice job in pass protection, it was up to the defensive backs to make plays on the ball.

Texas cornerback Curtis Brown impressed scouts with his athleticism and aggression. At times, he got a little grabby with receivers, but his size (5-11, 180), straight-line speed and fluidity typically kept him in the hip pocket of receivers. He was, however, beaten for two long touchdowns when he gambled on underneath routes and was beaten by double-moves over the top. Perfect throws deep (one by McElroy, the other by Ponder) beat him, but more often than not Brown closed just as the ball arrived, knocking some passes out of the receiver's hands just as they arrived.

USC cornerback Shareece Wright also showed a willingness to gamble on underneath routes. At 5-11, 182 pounds, he possesses almost identical size as Brown, though he isn't quite as agile or explosive to close on the ball. After making a nice break on the ball early in practice, Wright guessed wrong on the next throw, coming up quickly on a double-move and getting beat down the right sideline. Fortunately for Wright, the ball sailed out of bounds.

Perhaps the most consistently impressive player in the secondary was the smallest one. Florida's Ahmad Black may lack the bulk scouts want in a safety, but he has such quick feet that a move to cornerback may be in the future. At 5-09, 183, it may be his best bet at getting selected in the first half of the draft.


 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com