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Friday, April 20, 2018

Jake Locker, Christian Ponder Were Reaches for Titans and Vikings

James Carpenter going 25th overall to Seattle may have been a shocker, and the bounty the Falcons paid to move up and select Julio Jones was surprising, but nothing was more stunning than seeing Jake Locker and Christian Ponder go eighth and 12th respectively. I figured Locker would sneak into the back end of the first round and that Ponder would be a second-round pick, but I never thought these guys would each go Top 12. That’s just insane.

Locker seems like a likable guy and his physical tools (arm strength, size, and speed) are undeniable. The guy is talented. But I’ll harp on the same issue many analysts have with him: he just doesn’t have accuracy. I know his team at Washington was not very good and that he made the Huskies, but the guy just is not accurate with his passes. I’ve seen him unable to throw the football to immobile targets. How’s he supposed to throw on the run with Pro Bowl defensive backs covering his receivers? Locker can make plays happen, but I just don’t see him doing well in the NFL. Then again, this could be my Angels bias creeping up because I’d like to see what he could do in pro ball.

As for Ponder, I was equally stunned to hear his name called when it was. Ponder is smart, mature, and he has a good arm, but he’s injury prone, commits too many turnovers, and lacks intangibles. When I talk about intangibles, I have the NC State loss in mind. It was a poor performance by someone I thought was a leader at quarterback. Maybe the other reason why I’m not sold on Ponder is because I saw his four interception stinker against Clemson two seasons ago. I know Ponder was playing hurt a good portion of his games and that’s part of the reason his stats weren’t too good, but playing with injuries is part of the game and not an excuse in the NFL. Again, Ponder is another guy I like, but I don’t see him anywhere near the class of Aaron Rodgers or Matt Stafford — the other top quarterbacks in his division.

Four quarterbacks were taken in the first round of the NFL draft and I wouldn’t be thrilled about any of them. The least of which are Locker and Ponder.

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