Former Vikings QB Brad Johnson Talks About Ponder

Posted by Mike Wobschall on July 11, 2011 – 10:39 am

One former Florida State Seminole and former Minnesota Vikings QB had flattering words for another former Florida State Seminole and current Vikings QB.

Brad Johnson, who played 9 total seasons with the Vikings (1992-98, 2005-06), recently told Sid Hartman of the Star Tribune that Christian Ponder “should be ready to go” for the Vikings.

Coming from a player such as Johnson, those words should not be taken lightly. Vikings fans who remember Johnson’s days with the Purple might reflect on mixed memories, but make no mistake that Johnson was an accomplished player in the NFL. He spent 9 seasons with the Vikings, but played 4 seasons in Tampa Bay and led the Buccaneers to a Super Bowl victory following the 2002 season. Johnson also spent 2 seasons in both Dallas and Washington before retiring.

It’s been a while since Johnson was a mainstay on the Florida State campus, but it’s clear he still follows the program. Johnson said that current Florida State Head Coach Jimbo Fisher “demands a lot from quarterbacks and makes them learn the game” and Johnson also intimated that Ponder might have a steadying influence that could benefit the Vikings.

“Obviously, Christian is a quick study and hard worker and led those guys to a lot of wins down there,” Johnson said. “The program went through a lot of change when he first got there, so he fought through some tough times. Hopefully he has a great career. He did a lot of good things for Florida State, really kind of stabilized the program. The program went through difficult times when he got there, and he kind of led them back to a winning tradition down there.”

Success, much less a starting job, is no sure thing for Ponder in the NFL. Second-year QB Joe Webb is on the roster with Ponder in Minnesota and Rhett Bomar will compete as well. It also wouldn’t be surprising to see the Vikings add a veteran signal-caller along the way.

Those things aside, Johnson was confident when talking about Ponder and expects the rookie will be able to overcome the natural hurdles a young QB faces in the NFL.

“He’s got toughness about him, he’s got enough arm to complete whatever kind of ball needs to be completed at that level,” Johnson remarked. “Obviously it’s just being ready. It’s going to be tough on him without training camp and minicamp. What happens with this lockout? He’s been a quick study coming up, but any rookie is going to have a tough time adjusting.

“But he picks things up, and he should be ready to go.”

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Monday Morning Mailbag Extra: A Look At Defensive Draft Picks

Posted by Mike Wobschall on July 11, 2011 – 7:03 am

In this week’s Monday Morning Mailbag, a reader asked about the Vikings defensive draft picks and what we can expect from them in their rookie seasons. Because the Vikings chose 5 defensive players in the draft this year, the question was better-served to be answered in a blog entry than in the Monday Morning Mailbag.

So, here it goes… 

DL Christian Ballard: This is a player about whom Vikings fans should be excited. He measures in at 6-4, 283 pounds, which gives him the frame to play either DE or DT in the Vikings 4-3 defensive scheme. Conveniently, Ballard has the skill set as well as the frame to be a versatile lineman capable of playing multiple positions. Ballard spent the first 2 years of his career at left DE before moving inside and starting all 13 games of his junior season at DT. In his final season, Ballard rotated often at both spots, starting 8 contests on the outside and 5 more inside. Wherever the Vikings need an infusion of talent – DE or DT – Ballard looks able to provide it.

CB Brandon Burton: He was drafted in the 5th round (#150 overall) out of Utah and will compete for playing time on special teams and maybe even on defense right away. He’s got an uphill climb to get into the base defensive package and even nickel situations, but if he can display coverage ability and sound tackling technique, it’s not out of the question for him to earn playing time over Asher Allen and Chris Cook.

LB Ross Homan: A gritty LB from Ohio State, Homan comes to the Vikings with an outside shot to find playing time at LB but with a great chance to be a core special teams player. Homan was a leader on Ohio State’s defense and you can tell almost immediately after seeing him play that he’s a guy who gives 100% effort on every snap and is willing to do anything to help the team win. I think he can be a Heath Farwell-type of producer on special teams pretty quickly, which is saying a lot because Farwell is one of the best special teams players in the NFL.

DB Mistral Raymond: He’s 6-1, 191 pounds and played both CB and S at South Florida. The Vikings chose him with a 6th-round pick (#170 overall) and I’d love to see nothing more than for him to succeed in the NFL. His back story is incredible and is worth researching if you aren’t familiar with it. I expect that he’ll compete immediately for playing time on special teams and I’m optimistic that he can find a role on defense, whether it’s at CB or S.

DL D’Aundre Reed: This is the draft pick I know the least about. He stands at 6-4, 261 pounds and is listed as a DE. From what I can tell, he’ll play primarily on the right side, which means he’ll be behind Jared Allen. Because Allen obviously has the starting spot locked down, Reed will be in a good position to watch an established and talented veteran while honing his pass-rushing skills.

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