The Vikings were well-represented Tuesday in Tallahassee, Fla., to work out Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder, according to NFL.com. Ponder worked out in front of a full contingent of Vikings offensive representatives, which included head coach Leslie Frazier, offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave and quarterbacks coach Craig Johnson. Vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman was also rumored to have been in attendance at the workout. The same contingent is scheduled to travel to Auburn, Ala., today to work out Cam Newton.
The schedule of player visits comes after the team reportedly already worked out Jake Locker of Washington and Ricky Stanzi of Iowa – another pair of quarterbacks expected to go in the first couple of rounds of April's draft. In addition to pro-day workouts that the team has attended, there isn't a quarterback on their radar that they haven't seen in person and the only two with starter potential they haven't formally worked out (that we know of) are Missouri's Blaine Gabbert and Arkansas' Ryan Mallett – the former is expected to be long gone by the time the Vikings pick and the latter is a player who has been linked to the Vikings in numerous mock draft scenarios. The Vikings had a "get-to-know-you" dinner with Gabbert following his Pro Day March 17.
Ponder, who battled arm injuries last season at Florida State, is a three-year starter at FSU who is viewed as one of the most cerebral college quarterbacks in several years and an unquestioned leader. However, there are significant questions about his ability to throw the needed passes that quarterbacks have to make at the NFL level – not just making the throw, but make the throw with zip and velocity in a confined space.
As many as nine quarterbacks could go in the first two or three rounds – Gabbert, Newton, Locker, Mallett, Ponder, Stanzi, Colin Kaepernick (Nevada), Andy Dalton (TCU) and Pat Devlin (Delaware).
Without a third-round pick – lost in the Randy Moss trade – if the Vikings are going to get one of those nine players, they will have to do it in the first two rounds of the draft. If it isn't No. 12 (or a pick acquired trading down out of the 12th spot) or the second round (with the 43rd pick), it likely won't happen. After they pick at No. 43, the Vikings aren't scheduled to have another pick until No. 106 – coming in the fourth round. Those 63 picks will be made over the course of two days and a lot of players will come off the board in between them.
If the Vikings are, as they have expressed, truly interesting in using the draft to get a quarterback and expecting him to start, it's going to have to come early … or it's not going to come at all.
The best thing both Talib and Bryant have is that it can be argued that, in a lockout scenario, the league may be powerless to punish players for incidents that happen during that time span. They technically are no longer employees and, as such, likely not legally bound to the rules of their former employers. It may be yet another court case determining player and league rights.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.