Monday Morning Mailbag

Posted Jul 1, 2012

Do you have a comment or question? Send it to the Mailbag! Every Monday during the offseason we’ll post several comments and/or questions as part of the Monday Morning Mailbag feature. Although we can’t post every comment or question, we will reply to every question submitted.

To submit a comment or question to the mailbag, send an email to Mike Wobschall at Remember to include your name and town on the email.


Will Christian Ponder's arm strength have an effect on how successful he is? Or will the west coast system and his good accuracy make up for it?
-- Derek S.
New York

Arm strength is not a weakness of Ponder’s. When he was coming out of college I remember arm strength being cited as a question mark of his, but then I also remember being impressed with his arm strength the first time I saw him throw in person. He doesn’t have a cannon like we’ve seen from Brett Favre and others in the past, but Ponder is certainly on par with NFL passers in terms of arm strength. In this offseason along, I’ve seen him air out passes on the money to speedsters such as WRs Devin Aromashodu, Percy Harvin and Jerome Simpson.

Furthermore, while arm strength is an important characteristic for all quarterbacks, it’s just one part of the skill set. A quarterback can have the strongest arm in the world, but it does him no good if he doesn’t know where he’s going with the ball and if he’s not accurate when he does throw. Fortunately for the Vikings, they won’t have concerns with Ponder in terms of knowing where to throw the ball, and I’ve seen a sharp increase in Ponder’s accuracy over the offseason program.

Is there still work to do and improvement to be made for Ponder? Yes, there is. But the good news is Ponder doesn’t lack any vital traits quarterbacks need to make it at this level.

I think that CB Antoine Winfield is underrated. He is a dominant defensive back, hands down. Do you think the rookies can learn a lot from him?
-- Luis N.
Tulare, CA

There’s no question about it. The Vikings have a young secondary when you look at the cornerback and safety positions top-to-bottom. Having a veteran such as Winfield in the meeting room and on the field with those youngsters is going to be important for this Vikings defense. I asked this question to several of those young players, as well as to Winfield and DBs coach Joe Woods over the offseason, and everyone was in agreement that there is significant value to having Winfield around for his veteran presence to the younger defensive backs.

What sort of impact do you see DE Everson Griffen and LB Jasper Brinkley making this year? Also, what do you think of DT Christian Ballard?
-- Mike D.
Chicago, IL

I expect all three of those players to have a significant impact on the Vikings in 2012. We’ll start with Brinkley. He missed some time during the offseason with injuries, and of course we all know he missed the entire 2011 season with an injury. So durability questions about Brinkley are fair, but he’ll enter training camp healthy and ready to go. If he remains healthy, I see Brinkley being the guy at middle linebacker for the Vikings and I see him playing well.

Ballard and Griffen will also have impacts. While they may not be starters, at least not right away, both players have the versatility to play multiple positions, which makes them valuable pieces to the defense. Ballard will be in the defensive tackle rotation, an area where the Vikings are looking for improvement, and he also has the athleticism to move out to defensive end in a pinch. As for Griffen, he played first-team right defensive end when Jared Allen wasn’t around this offseason, and when Allen is around you’ll see Griffen slide over to the left side and see reps there. Of course there’s also been talk of having Griffen play some linebacker in 2012 as well, so it’s apparent that Griffen will have great opportunity to contribute defensively this year.

Do you think we are going to bring in any free agents before training camp? If so, who do you think we will mainly look at, and what positions?
-- Joe G.

This is something Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier was asked on the last day of minicamp. Here was his response:

“There’s a chance of that. We’re actually going to meet this afternoon and talk through some of that with myself, Rick (Spielman), George Paton, and some of the other scouts. We’re going to see what’s out there and talk about our current roster, where we are. We’re going to spend the rest of this summer and training camp as well trying to make sure we identify the right guys that are all available and try to come out with the best 53 (players) that we can.”

Keep in mind, the Vikings signed a free agent last week in defensive end Jeff Charleston, so that tells you the team continues to monitor the available players and will not hesitate to make a move if they feel it’s the right fit and the appropriate time.