NFL Draft: Ponder among potential non-first-round finds

As mentioned here earlier this week, drafting a quarterback in the first round, like buying a ticket for a Super Bowl at Cowboys Stadium, is an expensive proposition that can have no payoff.

But if the 49ers wait to draft a quarterback, the odds increase that they’ll net the same return (zero), albeit on a smaller investment.

In the past 10 years, 20 quarterbacks have been selected between the draft’s No. 45 overall pick (the Niners’ second-round spot this year) and the No. 100 pick (nice round number, near the end of the third round). Of those 20 picks, two – Houston’s Matt Schaub and Cleveland’s Colt McCoy – are current NFL starters.

I asked CBS Sports senior draft analyst Rob Rang to identify potential second- or third-round quarterbacks who would make the most sense for the Niners and their West Coast Offense.

Perhaps one of the quarterbacks below will develop into a legitimate starter. The others? David Greene?

JAKE LOCKER, WASHINGTON

Height: 6-2

Weight: 228

Rang’s projected draft round: First or second

The skinny: Meet Mr. Polarizing. On one hand, Locker has a huge arm, is a jaw-dropping athlete (a 4.4–ish, 40-yard dash, outfielder who was a 10th-round pick by the Angels in 2009) and played his final two seasons in a pro-style offense that Huskies coach Steve Sarkisian brought with him from USC. On the other hand, there is the small matter of his accuracy. Locker never completed more than 58 percent of his passes during his college career and he evidently didn’t erase many doubts during the Senior Bowl. Given his potential, though, it’s unlikely he’d still be around when the Niners pick at No. 45.

Rang: “If he’s available at the top of the second round, he’s got to be a consideration. There’s just too much upside. He has the physical tools that you’re looking for and if you had some time to develop him you could get a heck of a return on that investment.”

CHRISTIAN PONDER, FLORIDA STATE

Height: 6-2

Weight: 222

Rang’s projected draft round: Second or third

The skinny: Meet Mr. Arm Ailment. Late in his junior year, Ponder suffered a separated shoulder that required season-ending surgery. This season, he dealt with elbow and triceps injuries. Well, it was widely reported that he had an elbow injury. Ponder says it was really his forearm. Whatever the case, it hurt – Ponder missed two of FSU’s final four regular-season games and had three in-season surgical procedures, two to remove fluid from his bursa sac and another to remove scar tissue. Finally, he was knocked out of the Peach Bowl with a concussion. His injuries took a toll — he completed 61.5 percent of his passes after connecting on 68.8 percent as a junior. But he pronounced himself healthy at the Senior Bowl and looked the part, walking away as the game’s MVP. Russ Lande of the Sporting News has said Ponder might end up as his top-rated QB. (Lande doesn’t see a QB worthy of a first-round pick – not sure if his opinion has changed after Cam Newton’s workout that dropped a thousand jaws, give or take.)

Rang: “He’s kind of a traditional West Coast Offense quarterback. He has good accuracy on the short and intermediate level. Good mobility. Has the intelligence. He’s already proven that he can adapt to different offenses and be successful.”

ANDY DALTON, TCU

Height: 6-2

Weight: 213

Rang’s projected draft round: Second or third

The skinny: A four-year starter in TCU’s spread attack, Dalton posted a 42-6 record, had a 50-14 TD-to-INT ratio the past two seasons and rushed for 1,611 yards and 22 TDs during his career. I know — he won’t get to play Colorado State and Wyoming at the next level. Still, Dalton steadily improved during his career – completing 66.1 percent of his passes as a senior (59.8 as a freshman). Like seemingly every draft prospect, opinions on Dalton are wide ranging (he has a strong arm … no he doesn’t!) But there appears to be a consensus that his intangibles such as intelligence, work ethic and leadership are tough to top.

Rang: “He’s another guy that shows the accuracy in the short to intermediate levels. He has good mobility, he’s very cerebral passer and a natural leader.”

, ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>