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Tag:Christian Ponder
Posted on: October 2, 2010 1:16 pm
 

Examples of my Twitter posts so far

Besides answering questions from people during commercial breaks of today's Florida State-Virginia game (the one I'm watching now), I've also 'tweeted a few comments on FSU quarterback Christian Ponder.

Ponder has not challenged Virginia CB Ras-I Dowling, who I highlighted as a player I hoped to scout closely. He's flashed the unique skill set that has led me to rate him as a potential first round quarterback, showing mobility, short to medium range accuracy, and, most importantly the high football IQ to handle the transition to the pros. He's used audibles and correctly read the defense on most plays to check down to open receivers.

That said, he's also been fortunate that two of his early passes weren't intercepted. In both case, the defender simply dropped the ball. The first pass was Ponder's fault, as he underthrew a touch pass down the seam. The second, however, was an accurate pass that the FSU receiver simply slowed down while running the route and the defender did not.

Here are the tweets I've written so far. If you'd like to follow me on Twitter and see most of my comments or ask me questions, simply click here.

These posts are in chronological order.

  • FSU QB Christian Ponder fumbles off apparent option play on 1st play of scrimmage vs. UVA. FSU recovered. Ugly play to start game.
  • Completes first 2 passes though (including 3rd down), showing why I'm high on him. Steps up in pocket, drifts right, fires drag, out routes.
  • Ponder has thrown 2 balls that should have been intercepted. 1st was underthrown down the seam. 2nd, WR quit on route. Both dropped by DBs.
  • Best throw of the day so far for Ponder. Looks off S and shows good touch on post for a 15-yard TD. Led WR beautifully. FSU up 17-0 over UVA
Examples of reader/follower questions I've answered:

  • @mloyko54 Most overrated player so far = Ponder... My reply: I can name a few others more so, but I haven't been impressed so far today or against Okla
  • @MtySeahawk Wouldn't Mark Ingram be a great fit for Seahawks?... My reply: Absolutely. Ingram would be a great fit for any team needing a RB.
Posted on: October 1, 2010 10:50 pm
 

Five prospects I'll be focusing on Saturday

Each week, in preparation for Draft Slant and the handing out of my weekly awards for Prospect of the Week and Diamond in the Rough, I list five prospects on the blog that I'll be focusing on.

This week is no different -- though with such a huge slate of games -- I can go back to my customary role of focusing on just senior players, rather than dabbling with some underclassmen last week.

Because I'm spending the entire day scouting, I typically don't post more than once or twice on the blog on Saturdays. I do, however, invite you to scout "alongside" me by following me on Twitter.

Without any further adieu, here are this week's big five senior prospects:

CB Ras-I Dowling, Virginia: Dowling entered the year as one of NFLDraftScout.com's top 32 seniors and I yet I elected not to include him in my recent mock draft . The reason is that Dowling has been hobbled by a nagging hamstring injury and was only able to see his first playing time of the season last week against Virginia Military Institute. Dowling was not his typically dominant self, getting beaten deep on a long pass, as well as getting flagged for pass interference. And that was against VMI. Don't put it past Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder and his aggressive head coach Jimbo Fisher to test Dowling early. This game begins at noon EST and will be televised by ESPN.

RB DeMarco Murray, Oklahoma: Murray has earned NFLDraftScout.com's top grade among senior running backs, but if he is to legitimize his standing as a potential first round pick, this is the type of game where he'll need to show up big. This game may lack the sizzle of Red River Rivalries of the past, but even with Mack Brown's Longhorns struggle offensively, they typically play stout defense -- and this year's squad looks no different. Murray's ability to break outside for long gains, as well as his reliable hands out of the backfield, should make him the focus of the Texas defensive game plan, not stopping the Sooner passing game. This game begins at 3:30 pm EST and will be televised by ABC.

OT Marcus Gilbert, Florida: Florida linemate Mike Pouncey has generated most of the buzz (both good and bad) thus far this season, but Gilbert's play in this SEC Championship rematch against Alabama could play a key role in determining the winner. Gilbert, the Gators' right tackle, will be matched up against talented junior Marcell Dareus. Dareus struggled last week against Arkansas with a sprained ankle, but is a legitimate first round talent when healthy. If Gilbert (6-5, 320) is able to handle Dareus, the Gators chances of moving the ball against this talented Crimson Tide defense grow significantly. This game begins at 8 pm EST and will be televised by CBS.

QB Jake Locker, Washington:
Admittedly I could justify putting Locker on here every weekend but I'm betting that you're just as curious as I am as to how he performs in this, his first game since the Nebraska debacle. Locker doesn't have to win this game to right the ship in terms of his own slipping draft grade. He does, however, have to show improved accuracy and decision-making against a Trojan team looking for revenge. Remember, it was Locker and the Huskies' upset over the Trojans last year that some say led to the "fall of Troy." With the Huskies desperate to prove that the Nebraska game was a fluke and USC just as desperate to prove they remain among the Pac-10's elite, this game has all of the drama, but so much less of the hype of the day's monster showdowns. This game begins at 8 pm EST and will be televised by ESPN2.

DT/NG Sione Pua, Stanford: The young and dynamic skill position prospects in the Oregon-Stanford will get all of the attention and rightfully so. Pua, however, is one of the draft's more underrated run stuffers. If he can control the middle of the line of scrimmage and force Oregon running back LaMichael James outside, the Cardinal could force young Duck quarterback Darron Thomas to beat them. The last two defenses that were as physical as Stanford's gave the Ducks plenty of trouble -- Arizona State gave Oregon quite a scare last week and Ohio State beat the Ducks in the Rose Bowl. The winner of this game, I believe, becomes the odds on favorite to represent the Pac-10 in the Rose Bowl this year.  This game begins at 8 pm EST and will be televised by ABC/ESPN.
Posted on: September 22, 2010 1:57 pm
 

NFL Draft Prospects Update -- CBS video

Though the season is only a few weeks in, we know that there are plenty of ravenous NFL draft fans out there.

Earlier today I discussed with Lauren Shehadi the quarterbacks headlining NFL teams' draft boards. Our conversation began with Jake Locker and his struggles against Nebraska, but we also talked about Florida State's Christian Ponder, two talented underclassmen passers that are certainly piquing the interest of scouts, as well as two rising senior prospects to keep an eye on.

The video was recorded and is already available to watch. Just make sure after clicking the link that you go to Video Channels--NFL--NFL Draft Prospect Update 9/22. 

To watch the video click here.  

Posted on: September 18, 2010 11:22 pm
 

Question isn't if Locker slips, but how much?

Following a mediocre performance in his Huskies' season opening loss at BYU, I argued that whatever gap there may have been in the pro grades of Washington's Jake Locker and Florida State's Christian Ponder as the top senior quarterback was narrowing .

With a historically poor performance at home Saturday against Nebraska, Ponder will overtake Locker on most boards.

In all fairness to Locker, Nebraska may have the country's best secondary. The Cornhuskers' Prince Amukamara was rated by NFL scouts as the elite senior prospect in the country heading into this season. His counterpart, junior Alfonzo Dennard, has been characterized by Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini as being every bit as good as Amukamara. Dennard certainly looked worthy of his coach's high praise with stready coverage, including an interception and 33-yard return for a touchdown.

Locker completed only 4 of 20 passes for 71 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions against the Cornhuskers. His QB rating of 46.3% -- his worst in 31 career games -- is the third lowest QB-rating by a FBS quarterback since 2003.

Take away the 45-yard touchdown pass thrown to receiver Jermaine Kearse in the third quarter and Locker threw for only 26 yards in a game in which the Huskies trailed for all but the first two minutes (technically, 2:11).

But, forget the final statistics for a moment.

Locker's first throw of the game demonstrated exactly why scouts will be dropping him.

Dropping back, Locker surveyed the field and with solid protection he calmly lofted a deep pass over the middle into double coverage. The throw was easily intercepted by safety Eric Hagg.

It was a throw that never should have been made. Not by a fifth-year senior. Certainly not by one projected to be the first pick of the 2011 NFL draft.

Unless Locker turns around his season -- and quickly -- he won't have to worry about being the first pick.

He'll need to show improvement just to make the first round.
Posted on: September 12, 2010 11:31 am
 

Tough day for top QB prospects

A simple scan of the box scores of the Washington-Syracuse, Stanford-UCLA, Ohio State-Miami and Arkansas-Louisiana (Monroe) games yesterday might be enough to tell you that the winnning quarterbacks in these games enjoyed their Saturday far more than the losing quarterbacks in the Florida State-Oklahoma and Idaho-Nebraska games.

Stat lines rarely tell the whole story, however, and they certainly don't in this case.

Despite impressive stat lines, I can tell you, after spending much of day and night Saturday reviewing their work, that nearly all of the QB prospects potentially available for the 2011 NFL draft struggled. And that none of them showed the consistent accuracy, pocket awareness or poise in a hostile environment (or all three) to lead an NFL team right now.

Which is good, because all of them obviously are collegiate prospects with at least a full calendar year until they'll be asked to do so.

In terms of numbers, one might say that Jake Locker (22/33, 289 yards, 4 TDs/0 INTs, 12 rushing yards) was the most impressive in the Huskies' 41-20 win over Syracuse.

Despite his impressive totals, however, the same accuracy issues that plagued Locker against BYU a week earlier were still there. His receivers, largely junior wideout Jermaine Kearse (9 receptions for 179 yards, 3 TDs) simply turned short and intermediate routes into big plays with good vision, tough running and underrated speed.

Still, for Locker, it was the second mediocre game of the season -- and the Huskies host Nebraska next Saturday.

Fellow senior prospect Christian Ponder (11/28, 113 yards, 0 TDs/2 INTs, 23 rushing yards) much more obviously struggled Saturday in front of a raucous crowd in Norman, Oklahoma. He had little time and was hurt by several drops from his receivers, but as the game slipped away in the second and third quarters, Ponder began to press. He threw the ball into coverage and, at times, allowed himself to peek at the rush rather than keeping his eyes downfield. With the weakest of this group's arms (though still plenty strong for the NFL), these mistakes only added to Florida State's struggles.

Of course, the senior quarterback prospect who struggled the most was Idaho's Nathan Enderle . As I mentioned in my previous blog post, Enderle was among the five senior prospects I was closely scouting yesterday. No one expected the Vandals to walk into Lincoln and shock the Cornhuskers, but Enderle clearly struggled with the speed and physicality of his opponent. He finished 16/31, 141 yards, 1 TD/5 INTs -- including two 40+ yard INTs returned for TDs on back to back drives in the second quarter.

The play from the underclassmen was certainly better than Enderle's, but, like Locker's statistics can be deceiving.

Arkansas' Ryan Mallett had an apparent field day against Louisiana-Monroe (28/43, 400 yards, 3 TDs/1 INT), but the same issues that concerned me before remain. Mallett has a tendency to not set his feet, relying on his admittedly very strong arm to thread the needle. Against this caliber of defense he can get away it. Against the Pittsburgh Steelers or Green Bay Packers? Not so much. Don't let his numbers fool you. Remember, Bobby Petrino's offense helped Brian Brohm (Packers) get drafted in the second round.

Even Heisman favorite (at least mine) Terrelle Pryor (12/27, 233 yards, 1 TD/0 INT, 113 rushing yards, 1 TD) wasn't as dazzling throughout the game as the highlights you may have seen would indicate. Pryor, like Mallett, is inconsistent in setting his feet before he throws. Like Locker, he simply isn't accurate enough at this point to consistently complete tough throws in the NFL. Too many of his passes sailed over the head or bounced a yard in front of his receivers. In Pryor's (and Locker's) defense, the threat of his running allows him to be less accurate a passer.

Because the game didn't start until 10:30 pm EST, many didn't see any of redshirt sophomore Andrew Luck's performance against UCLA. Luck was his typical efficient (11/24, 152 yards, 2 TDs/0 INTs, 63 rushing yards) self and his Cardinal team thoroughly dominated the Bruins on their way to a 35-0 shellacking in the Rose Bowl.

Even still, while protected by a stout offensive line and an underrated receiving corps, Luck missed several wide open targets, including going 0-3 on some easy passes in the Cardinals' first offensive series. His two touchdown throws were easy tosses that any quarterback with a hope of making the NFL would make.

And so what does the collective struggles of these talented quarterbacks prove?

That - newsflash - playing quarterback at the BCS level is very difficult.

And that there is still plenty of work to be done by all six prospects before they are ready for the NFL.

Posted on: September 10, 2010 9:49 pm
 

Five seniors I'll be scouting closely Saturday

With three DVD burners running around the clock, I'll be recording nearly every televised college football game throughout the year. There is only so much time in the day, so I have to put some careful thought into picking the games (and more specifically, the prospects) each Saturday in which to scout live.

For most of the football-watching world, this weekend will be all about the NFL. I understand that. I'm as excited as anyone for the rest of the beginning of the opening weekend -- especially after the Saints and Vikings looked a bit rusty on Thursday night.

The NCAA season really amps up this weekend, however, with some of the more exciting matchups of the season scheduled. I'm particularly intrigued by the Ohio State-Miami, Florida State-Oklahoma, Penn State-Alabama matchups. A couple of others that haven't received the national hype they normally would due to the "Big Three" but that I'm verrrry interested to scout include Georgia at South Carolina, Colorado at California, Oregon at Tennessee and Stanford at UCLA.

Each Friday night/Saturday morning throughout the rest of the season I'll put up a similar post as this one. Should you like to scout "alongside" me, follow me on Twitter @ RobRang

These are five senior prospects I'll be watching closely:

QB Christian Ponder, Florida State: Ponder looked every bit the part of a high first round pick last Saturday, completing 14 of 16 passes for 169 yards and four touchdowns in the season opener. That, however, was against Samford. Needless to say, he might find the going a bit tougher in Norman, Saturday. Considering that the Sooners struggled defensively against a weaker opponent (Utah State), themselves, Ponder will certainly have Oklahoma's undivided attention. With a win and a strong performance, Ponder could move into the upper echelon of Heisman contenders. How he handles the noise and pressure of Oklahoma's aggressive defense will go a long way in proving to scouts that he's progressed from the poor decisions that ended his last road game. In that contest, at Clemson last year, Ponder threw four interceptions (he'd thrown only three in his previous eight games) and hurt his shoulder making a tackle of safety DeAndre McDaniel (on an interception return), ending Ponder's 2009 season. 

QB Nathan Enderle, Idaho:
Enderle entered the year as one of the more intriguing senior quarterbacks in the country. Long prior to scouts buzzing about former Vandal Mike Iupati, there were whispers that the Vandals had a legitimate NFL passing prospect. I'm certainly not expecting to see Enderle lead Idaho to an upset of Nebraska in Lincoln, but if the 6-4, 234 pound Enderle is to prove to NFL scouts that he has the moxie and arm strength to handle the pro game, he'll need to show something Saturday. The Cornhuskers are a bit of a step up in competition from last week's opponent, North Dakota. In that game, Enderle completed 24 of 37 passes for 311 yards, two TDs and an INT.

ILB Colin McCarthy, Miami: The great Miami teams of the past all seemingly boasted instinctive, athletic linebackers. In McCarthy, the 'Canes have one of the more intriguing and versatile linebackers in the ACC -- and that is saying something considering the talent in this conference. Wearing the same No. 44 that the legendary Dan Morgan starred with, McCarthy will have to enjoy a strong game against Ohio State if his defense is going to handle this multi-faceted offense. McCarthy doesn't necessarily have to post Morgan-like eye-popping statistics to help his grade in my eyes. He will, however, have to show great instincts and athleticism to contain Terrelle Pryor's running. That, in reality, might be the tougher assignment.

OC/OG Stefen Wisniewksi, Penn State: The play of Heisman-winner Mark Ingram and wideout Julio Jones might have earned many of the headlines, but anyone who watched the Tide throughout last year knows that Nick Saban's bunch won the National Championship based largely on the physicality and depth of their defense. Wisniewksi, the nephew of former Raider great, Steve, will have his hands full with this defensive line. He'll start at right guard, but we currently view his best pro position at center.

OT Nate Solder, Colorado: The Buffs have struggled through some lean years recently, but with Solder, the team boasts its highest rated offensive prospect since tight end Daniel Graham was the 21st overall pick of the 2002 draft (Patriots). Solder, who despite the presence of No. 4 and No. 6 overall picks Trent Williams and Russell Okung, earned First Team All-Big 12 honors from conference coaches last year, is currently rated as NFLDraftScout.com's No. 2 senior offensive tackle. The veteran of 29 starts, Solder possesses rare size (6-8, 302) and yet is still quite nimble. He'd be better be Saturday, considering the variety of pass rushers he'll face against California's unique (at least for college) 3-4 scheme. Among those pass rushers is Cal's Cameron Jordan. Their individual battle could be one of the country's best, if most unheralded, of the day.


Posted on: September 4, 2010 11:26 pm
 

Ponder spectacular, Locker merely good today

Completing 12 of 14 passes for 167 yards and 4 touchdowns in only a half of play today, Florida State's Christian Ponder may have narrowed whatever gap Washington's Jake Locker had above him as the top senior quarterback prospect in the country. 

Ponder did throw an interception, but he showed a live arm, as well as good accuracy in the short to intermediate range. Ponder commanded the offense efficiently and showed off his underrated mobility by completing passes, including his first touchdown pass of the year, while on the move. His four touchdowns went for 4, 15, 8 and 11 yards. One area in which he fared better than Locker on this day was the recognition of when to rifle passes and when to throw with touch.

In losing to BYU, Locker's realistic chances at the Heisman might be over. His NFL grade may not drop based on his play today, but it certainly wasn't strengthened.

In Locker's defense, there is a significant difference in the quality of defense that he and Ponder faced Saturday.

Ponder was playing FCS Samford at home. Locker was facing BYU on the road. Any question about how tough Mountain West teams at home were answered with Pitt and Oregon State losing to Utah and TCU.

And to be fair, Locker played a solid game. He completed 20 of 37 passes for 266 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions. He also ran for another 29 yards and a score.

Locker's trademark mobility, arm strength, quick release and, unfortunately, inconsistent accuracy were on display today. When he missed, he often missed high. Locker did show improved accuracy on the move, often drilling passes through tight windows when rolling to the right. He also drilled a few post-routes, giving his receivers plenty of open field with which to generate yardage after the catch.

However, too often in short yardage situations Locker elected to throw the ball downfield rather than check down to easier options. One such play came on 4th and 2 in the fourth quarter. Rolling right, Locker elected to throw the ball into the endzone, where a well-positioned defender broke up the pass. Locker released the ball just as his running back, Chris Polk, running a few yards ahead of him, appeared to be breaking free of his defender. Had Locker throttled down and thrown the ball over Polk's shoulder, it could have for an easier completion and a likely first down.

The opening game of the season is hardly enough to grade these two quarterbacks. Their race to be the first senior QB drafted (and perhaps the first quarterback, overall) will be every bit the marathon, rather than the sprint.

There is no denying Locker's upside. But there is also no denying that Ponder made the better, more consistent plays to help his team win Saturday.


Posted on: August 19, 2010 12:23 pm
Edited on: August 19, 2010 12:23 pm
 

NFLDraftScout.com Radio, Parts 1 and 2

If you like NFLDraftScout.com's year-round coverage of college and pro football and especially the NFL Draft, you may want to check out our two latest ventures onto the radio airwaves.

My fellow draft analysts Chris Steuber and Chad Reuter introduced our new series "Setting The Board" on NFLDraftScout.com radio just last night. The show, which airs each Wednesday night at 6pm EST and offers listeners a live call-in, is off to a rocking start. The topics last night range from Rex Ryan's obscenity-filled theatrics on HBO's Hard Knocks to Tim Tebow's first NFL test to the real meat and potatoes of our content -- checking out the prospective NFL talent across the country.

Last night's show focused on the senior prospects on the offensive side of the ball, including a debate as to which of the top quarterbacks -- Washington's Jake Locker or Florida State's Christian Ponder -- is the most pro-ready.

In case you weren't able to listen in live or simply want to listen again, you can check it out by either following the prominent NFLDraftScout.com radio link on the right side of our main page here or simply by clicking on this link to go directly to our UStream link.

For those of you that would like to listen to me yap a bit, as well, I'll be co-hosting with Ian Furness on Seattle's 950 KJR AM today from 4-6 pm EST. KJR's website offers a "Listen Live" feature off their main page and toll-free numbers to call in and talk with us.

Live at the Seattle Seahawks' training camp, listeners can expect a great deal of talk centering on Pete Carroll's bunch, but Ian and I often break down college prospects that the Seahawks and every other NFL team are certain to be keeping an eye on. In fact, Ian and I broke down prospects on KJR each Friday last fall and plan to do the same this year, as well.

I hope you'll find the time to join us NFLDraftScout.com radio in the future. If you're like us -- and can't live without draft talk even nine months away from the event -- this is the place to be.



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