Seven potential landing spots for Ponder

Peter King is the latest NFL draft observer to suggest that Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder could go in the first round, tweeting: “Eight days before the draft, this is the hot guy at the bottom of round one: FSU QB Christian Ponder.”

But Ponder won’t be a fit for every team. His arm strength is considered to be only average and he struggles throwing the deep ball. But he has good athleticism, a high football IQ and is very accurate, making him a solid fit for the West Coast Offense. With that in mind, below are seven potential landing spots for Ponder as the draft approaches.

Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals will run new offensive coordinator Jay Gruden’s version of the WCO and with the uncertainty surrounding Carson Palmer’s return next year, Ponder is a logical fit for Cincinnati. That said, the Bengals obviously aren’t going to take him with the No. 4 pick. They could trade down, but it would make more sense for them to either wait and hope he falls to them at No. 35 or trade back into the late first round and take Ponder there.

Minnesota Vikings
Under new offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave, the Vikings will run a version of the WCO with elements of the vertical passing game and strong rushing attack a la the scheme Mike Mularkey runs in Atlanta. Given some of the things that head coach Leslie Frazier has said this offseason, you get the sense that Minnesota will draft and start a rookie this season. They won’t take Ponder at No. 12 but they are a candidate to trade back into the first round.

San Francisco 49ers
If you read between the lines, the Niners’ game plan under new head coach Jim Harbaugh is this: Re-sign Alex Smith to a one-year deal, draft a quarterback in one of the first two rounds and groom him to start in 2012. Like many of the teams on this list, the 49ers won’t draft Ponder with their first pick (No. 7 overall) but are in position to move up into the late first round.

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Could the Bengals take a flier on Christian Ponder in the second round?

A week ago Christian Ponder was viewed as a third round prospect at best. But after impressing scouts at the combine, you would think that the guy is ready to go in the top 10 based on some media reports.

Rob Rang of CBS Sports is reporting that Ponder is generating first round buzz after his workout in Indianapolis over the weekend. He even says that Ponder is now “viewed by some as the top true West Coast Offense quarterback in the draft.”

I know Ponder looked good in his workout but I highly doubt he’ll go in the first round. He’s still a mid-round prospect, but one team that has emerged as an interesting candidate for the former FSU quarterback is the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Carson Palmer situation is getting a little hairy in the ‘Natti. He wants out and with each passing day, it appears as though the team is willing to abide by his wishes. If they trade or release Palmer, then quarterback becomes the biggest need for the Bengals, although I’m not convinced they’ll take a signal caller at No. 4.

Cam Newton isn’t a fit for Jay Gruden’s West Coast offense and neither is Ryan Mallett. The same goes for Jake Locker, who doesn’t have the accuracy to play in the system and while you can make a case for Blaine Gabbert, there’s a good chance that if the Bengals wait they could nab Ponder at the top of the second round (or later if they trade back or attempt to wait until the third round to nab him) and pay him significantly less than if they take Gabbert at No. 4.

Ponder fits in the West Coast because his best attribute is his accuracy. He also has a strong enough arm to make all the throws at the next level and as long as his confidence stays up, he could wind up developing into a nice quarterback down the road. Depending on how the situation plays out with Palmer, Ponder seems like a logical fit for the Bengals.

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