Jake Locker going No. 8 to the Tennessee Titans was set to be the most scrutinized, analyzed and criticized pick of the first round of the NFL draft. And then the Minnesota Vikings took Christian Ponder at No. 12 and let 'em off the hook.
If there was any doubt that the Titans were reaching when they selected the Washington Huskies quarterback in the top 10, it was put to doubt by the reaction of the normally mild-mannered NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock, who audibly gasped when he heard the pick and then proceeded to tear into Locker's game film:
That highlight package was obviously put together days or weeks ago, suggesting that Mayock was prepared to dog Locker's game even if he was drafted in the teens or twenties, as expected. Him going No. 8 was a surprise, but not a complete shock. Though Locker may have mechanical flaws, he fills a need for the Titans and went relatively close to his projected draft slot.
The same can't be said of the Vikings pick, Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder. With Brett Favre finally gone and Tarvaris Jackson not instilling confidence in the coaching staff, Minnesota needed a quarterback. Was Ponder at No. 12 the way to do it?
Our draft expert, Doug Farrar, didn't have the FSU product going in the first round, let alone at No. 12, mainly due to pre-draft concerns about Ponder's injury history and weak arm. (The name Chad Pennington was bandied about more frequently than any team would like for a guy taken early in the first round.) He wasn't alone in that sentiment. Though there had been some speculation in recent days that a team like the Washington Redskins could trade down to the mid-first round to take him, Ponder's best-case scenario figured to be getting picked late on Thursday night.
Pros and cons of the top-10 picks
• 1. Cam Newton -- Carolina Panthers
• 2. Von Miller -- Denver Broncos
• 3. Marcell Dareus -- Buffalo Bills
• 4. A.J. Green -- Cincinnati Bengals
• 5. Patrick Peterson -- Arizona Cardinals
• 6. Julio Jones -- Atlanta Falcons
• 7. Aldon Smith -- San Francisco 49ers
• 8. Jake Locker -- Tennessee Titans
• 9. Tyron Smith -- Dallas Cowboys
• 10. Blaine Gabbert -- Jacksonville Jaguars
Other NFL draft coverage on Yahoo! Sports:
• NFL draft's best-dressed player
• Draftee gets emotional message from jailed father
• Which pick looked like a 'high-end ice cream man'?
- Christian Ponder
- Tennessee Titans
- Minnesota Vikings
- Jake Locker
- Mike Mayock