Early last week, Christian Ponder did not plan to throw at the NFL Scouting Combine. But shortly before the event was set to begin, the former Seminole quarterback changed his mind (or more likely overruled his agent's advice) because of what he called the "competitor in me".
It's a good thing he decided to throw.
From most of the accounts from observers, experts and NFL scouts, the 6-foot-2 signal-caller was one of the top performing quarterbacks at this year's combine. After posting some excellent results during the performance testing phase of the combine, including tying for the best 20-yard shuttle time with fellow ACC QB Tyrod Taylor at 4.09 seconds, Ponder showed off his footwork, quick motion and accuracy during the passing drills.
The website NationalFootbalPost.com raved about Ponder calling him the top quarterback at the Combine. Also, NFL scout John Crist said Ponder is at the top of the list for quarterbacks that helped themselves over the weekend. And Tony Pauline, draft expert for Sports Illustrated, said the following to Ben Volin of the Palm Beach Post on Sunday:
"Christian Ponder looked more like first round pick this afternoon than Cam Newton did."
Ponder, who turned 23 on Friday, arrived in Indianapolis at a muscular 229 pounds. Despite the additional weight on his 6-foot-2 frame, he was able to post excellent results in the performance test at the combine. His 4.65 second 40-time, 34-inch vertical jump, 9'8" broad jump, 6.85 second 3-cone drill, and 4.09 second 20-yard shuttle (1st) all ranked among the top seven for quarterbacks.
This is the second straight time that Ponder as excelled on the big stage for NFL scouts and coaches. At the January 29th Senior Bowl, Colleyville, Texas native threw two touchdown passes in leading the south team to 24-10 victory and earned MVP honors in the process.
Despite performing at a high level at both events, and having his previously injured arm fully cleared by medical experts, most draft experts say Ponder will likely be selected in the second or third round of the April 28-30 NFL Draft.
His next opportunity to impress will come in two and a half weeks at FSU's March 16th Pro Day. In the meantime, Ponder will continue to train and prepare in Arizona.
Gene Williams is the founder and administrator of Warchant.com and writes stories and features covering all of FSU's sports with an emphasis on football and football recruiting. For seven years, Williams hosted a weekly sports radio show in Tallahassee. He currently appears as a weekly guest on 1010 XL Sports Radio in Jacksonville and 1270 The Team in Tallahassee during football season. Williams is also a former ACC correspondent for College Football News (weekly national newspaper), and contributes to The Osceola. Story about Gene Williams & Warchant.com.