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Christian Ponder vs. Andy Dalton: Did Minnesota Vikings Make an Awful Mistake?

ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 27:  Christian Ponder #7 of the Minnesota Vikings celebrates after tossing a touchdown reception against the Atlanta Falcons at Georgia Dome on November 27, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Ray TannockSenior Analyst INovember 30, 2011

With a very disappointing 2012 season winding down for the Minnesota Vikings, several questions are beginning to surface about this team. One of them is whether or not the Vikings made an awful mistake drafting Christian Ponder over Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton.

For those who may not remember, there were several quarterbacks available at the time the Vikings 12th overall pick came—namely Christian Ponder and Andy Dalton.

Dalton's size and proven ability to be a sound pocket passer were huge attributes that had many—myself included—thinking he would be a great selection for Minnesota.

Conversely, many believed that while Christian Ponder's best attribute was his above average football intelligence, though his injured-riddled past at FSU made him a draft pick that also came with some liability. Many believed he wasn't worthy of a first-round pick.

Well here we are with two-thirds of the season already in the books. Andy Dalton is in Cincinnati with a 7-4 record, while Christian Ponder is in Minnesota at 2-9, and some are now asking whether or not the Vikings made a mistake when they passed on Andy Dalton.

To be honest, however, it isn't a fair question in the slightest bit.

Dalton has had all season to work through the growing pains of being an NFL starter, while Ponder has had five games as a starter to do so.

If we also compare their two teams, we also see that Dalton plays for a far superior team in Cincinnati than Ponder does in Minnesota.

The Bengals offer a dangerous ground attack similar to Minnesota, but they also feature at least two marquee receivers in Jermaine Gresham and rookie sensation A.J. Green.

This Bengals team also boasts one of the best defenses n the NFL, which is more than Minnesota can say aside from the competent ground assault.

It's an important notice, simply because if we ask whether or not the Vikings made a mistake on passing up Dalton, then we also must question/speculate just how good Dalton would be right now had he been drafted by the Vikings and dealt with the same team and time on the bench as Ponder.

Comparatively, the two quarterbacks are very similar in numbers through their first five games as a starter.

Dalton completed 93-of-157 (59.0 percent) for 1,047 yards, six TDs and three INTs.

Ponder completed 83-of-152 (55.0 percent) for 1,042 yards, six TDs and six INTs.

The point is, the question holds very little value from a comparison standpoint, rendering it somewhat useless.

I believe the Vikings made a sound decision in Ponder, who is a quarterback they felt not only fitted their system better, but was just simply the better man for the job.

And while Andy Dalton may have more pro experience under his belt, a better team on paper and a slightly better margin of success than Ponder, I do not feel that he would've fit the bill here in Minnesota.

Andy Dalton will be great quarterback in a few years to come, but he will be so as a Cincinnati Bengal.

Christian Ponder, however, will not only be a great quarterback down the road for Minnesota, he will show that the organization did not make an awful decision at the 2011 NFL.

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