Russell Wilson, my favorite Seahawks draft pick ever

April 28th, 2012 | Written by Kip Earlywine

Written by Kip Earlywine

(Be sure to scroll down and check for new content as Rob and I have been posting updates frequently.  If you missed it, Rob gave his day two reaction which you can read here.)

Russell Wilson is not the best Seahawks Draft pick ever.  Russell Wilson wasn’t the biggest Seahawks draft day value ever (obviously).  Russell Wilson could be, but probably won’t be, the greatest Seahawks quarterback ever.   I’m not saying this is the best pick ever, but anyone that’s done a top ten list of their favorite movies probably realized in short order that there is a big difference between “favorite” and “best.”

Russell Wilson is none of those things, but there was no pick I ever enjoyed hearing in the moment more than this one.  I’ve followed the draft as a Seahawks fan for about 20 years, and this was only the second time that a pick made me leap off the couch and scream in celebration.  The other time was in 2007 when Brandon Mebane somehow reached our third round pick and the Seahawks didn’t repeat their mistake of passing on him in the previous round.

So why so much emotion?  Its because, well, if there is one thing that is consistent every year, it’s that the Seahawks never seem to draft the players I want the most.  This was true for so long that I just accepted it- my favorite players would be playing for other teams- that’s just how the world works. The thought of going through this whole draft without getting Rusell Wilson was a painful one for me.  I might be a bigger believer in Wilson than John Gruden is, if you can imagine that.   So as an emotional safety mechanism, I forced myself to assume that he wouldn’t be a Seahawk.  Seattle would wait until the late rounds for a quarterback and another team, probably Green Bay or Philly or even Pittsburgh, would make him their pick somewhere in the mid rounds.

When the 75th pick arrived, I wasn’t even thinking about Russell Wilson, because picks that I would like this much never happen.  The thought didn’t even cross my mind.  Especially since both Lamar Miller and Chris Polk were available (and are still available). Demario Davis was still there too.  We had heard that quarterback was probably going to be a later-than-this priority, and that was before the team signed Matt Flynn.  In that moment, I was thinking about five potential players the Seahawks could be thinking of, and none of them were Russell Wilson.  Hearing his name called was like getting struck by lightning.

Which is weird, because while I had ruled Wilson out emotionally, intellectually I’ve been saying for months that Russell Wilson makes all the sense in the world for the Seahawks.  I initially covered Wilson in part II of my quarterback series back in late December of last year.  In one of the latter installments I added this:  “The more I think about it, the more realistic Wisconsin’s Russell Wilson appears.”  In the next installment after that, I even floated the hypothetical that John Schneider was talking up guys like Tannehill and Osweiler “to help them get drafted before Kirk Cousins or Russell Wilson.”  Back in early March I wrote a “What I think Seattle’s draft could look like” 7 round mock in which I was trying to be as realistic as possible (this was pre-Matt Flynn).  I had Seattle drafting Russell Wilson in round 4.  At the end of my (lengthy) Wilson explanation, I even said that “if it was up to me I’d find a way to draft Wilson even earlier than this.”

Just a few days ago I did a post regarding my top ten quarterbacks and my best guesses for the front office’s top ten.  I had Wilson 3rd on my list, behind only Luck and Griffin, and gave him a 3rd round grade.  Having Wilson that high is controversial to say the least, if not open for mockery.  Maybe it still is, until Wilson shows everyone what I think he can.  I had the Seahawks ranking Wilson 5th, behind Luck, Griffin, Osweiler, and Tannehill, with an estimated front office draft value in the 4th round.

Now that I think about it, I should have at least anticipated the possibility of Wilson at #75.  Teams reach for guys with perceived 4th or 5th round grades in the 3rd round all the time.  The emotional part of my mind and the thinking part of my mind were more than separated, they were divorced.  The kind of ugly divorce where neither side ever talks to the other ever again.  Hearing Wilson’s name being called was surreal.  The most pleasant surprises are often the ones you didn’t suspect the most.  Instantly the safety valves released.  I was able to celebrate the player that I had badly wanted, but wouldn’t allow myself to hope for.  I erupted in a way that I had not since watching the Beastquake come out of nowhere in the Saints playoff game, when just moments earlier it seemed the Seahawks were sinking further and further into certain doom.  It was one of those moments where on the outside I was shouting and high fiving, and on the inside it felt something like this.

I said yesterday that my two favorite players in the whole draft going in (regardless of round) were Bruce Irvin and Russell Wilson.  I figured there was maybe a 10% chance we’d get one of them.  To watch the Seahawks draft both of them… it feels amazing.  I’m just not used to getting players I like this much.

Russell Wilson may not be a lock for the Hall of fame just yet, but he’s got a good chance to be the best quarterback that was actually drafted by the Seahawks.  Since entering the league in 1976, the Seahawks’ history of drafting quarterbacks has been abysmal.  Jim Zorn doesn’t count, he was undrafted (and that was back when the draft went 17 rounds too).  Dave Krieg also went undrafted (12 rounds that year).  Matt Hasselbeck was drafted, but by the Packers.  Warren Moon was a veteran free agent.  Seahawks draft picks at quarterback include Rick Mirer, Dan McGwire, David Greene, and Mike Teel, to name a few.  I think it says a lot when the best Seahawk drafted quarterback of all time is probably Seneca Wallace.

I’m a believer in Wilson’s upside, but even if I’m wrong, Wilson’s floor is a better Seneca Wallace without the problems that limited him, and Seneca Wallace has been one of the league’s better backups for close to a decade now.  Some might say that paying a third for a good backup is too much, but tell that to Chicago, who had a strong playoff run derailed by a lack of a quality backup option.  The difference between a TJ Yates and a Caleb Hanie can define a season.

Regarding the Wallace comparison, it’s important to remember that Wallace wasn’t limited by his height so much as his mind.  He drove everyone crazy by running out of bounds for a loss instead of throwing the ball away.  He didn’t look comfortable running the offense, and often locked onto receivers.  He was mobile, but lacked pocket presence.  In a lot of ways, he was a shorter Tarvaris Jackson.  By contrast, Wilson is incredibly smart with his decision making.  Size and athleticism aside, they are two very different quarterbacks, with Wilson being easily the superior prospect.

And remember, that’s his downside.  His upside is a slightly shorter but smarter version of Michael Vick.  Pete Carroll compared him to Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton (who played at 6’0″).  I didn’t see it personally, but I’ve heard that Carroll lit up like a Christmas tree in the Seahawks war-room when the Seahawks got Wilson.  Clearly this was a player they really believed in and badly wanted.

This is meant to be a reaction post, so I’ll save the heavy analysis for later in the week.  But for now I’ll say that Wilson is a guy who intrigues the heck out of me, and I’ve believed for a while that he had outstanding potential if he went to a team like Seattle, Philadelphia, or Green Bay: a team that runs a mobile quarterback offense and was willing to modify their offenses to compensate for Wilson’s shortcomings.  Andy Reid has already done so for Michael Vick, who’s only an inch and a quarter taller than Wilson.  Pete Carroll is well known for modifying scheme to get more out of players.  In that sense, I don’t know if there was a better match in the league for a player like Russell Wilson than Pete Carroll’s Seahawks.

Lately it seems everything that comes to Seattle from the state of Wisconsin has worked out pretty well for us.  Dave Krieg.  Mike Holmgren.  Matt Hasselbeck.  John Schneider.  Now Russell Wilson.  (Hopefully John Moffitt can step things up too).  The Seahawks are now set for not one but two quarterback battles this August, one between a passable starter and the NFL’s best backup, and the other between two highly intriguing quarterbacks with upside.  I can’t wait to see how things shake out.

20 Responses to “Russell Wilson, my favorite Seahawks draft pick ever”

  1. Steve in Spain says:

    Finally we can relish in the exhilaration of the Seahawks having drafted a legitimate QBOTF! Throughout the lead-up to the draft, I maintained a cold indifference to Wilson purely out of emotional self-defense – I figured one of the “smart” teams out there would snatch him up and we’d be left, once again, hoping and praying that the future might lie in next year’s draft for QBs. I really feel like the future at the position is already on the team now, whether it ends up being Wilson, Flynn or Portis!

  2. Matthew Baldwin says:

    There’s a lot to like about Wilson and I appreciate your enthusiasm Kip, but a developmental QB in the 3rd is luxury NE could afford last year with Mallet, but not us this year. We have too many holes and depth issues.

    And quality backup QBs can be bought on the FA market; cheap. They don’t require draft capital, especially a 3rd rounder.

    I hate this pick.

    I’ve said it before but how many QBs drafted in rounds 2 thru 5 have been successful since Favre was drafted 33rd overall?

    We don’t a lot invested in Flynn and we can cut bait after this year without much financial commitment. But don’t we need to surround him with talent and protection just to see what we actually have?

    I just don’t get it but I hope I’m wrong.

  3. Kip Earlywine says:

    I thought it was interesting that Pete Carroll compared Wilson to Fran Tarkenton and not a backup like Seneca Wallace. Maybe you could just file that under “what would you expect him to say,” but given that he compared Wilson to a hall of famer and jumped up and down like a school girl when he drafted him… that tells me Seattle hopes for more than a long term backup with Wilson.

  4. Chris says:

    Russell Wilson is NOT a developmental quarterback. He played behind center most snaps in a pro-style this year and his previous 3 years were in a west coast offense. He’s also shown he’s a very quick study in learning a new offense and just plain knows what he’s doing when it comes to the QB position.

    It may be unlikely, but he theoretically COULD compete for a starting job this year. He may not get the chance, since Flynn is likely to be annointed and he might be fighting for quality snaps, but he will be as ready to go as a rookie QB can be.

    When I was watching some of his games again after the pick, I strangely was thinking that his movement in and around the pocket along with his constant pump fakes reminded me of Tarkenton (Swear to God … I’m old enough, barely, to have seen Fran play and I still remember him fairly well). Carrol’s comparison caught me by surprise later when I heard it. Russell doesn’t have Seneca’s pure athleticism but he is very sneaky quick and great in buying himself time. Fran wasn’t really fast, but he was just a sneaky, shifty, little bastard. A short guy too. In some ways I think Fran is a better comparison than guys like Flutie or Seneca, although Russell’s arm is much better (but Fran’s ability to scramble is almost unmatched, but he was playing against much slower competition back then).

  5. lemonverbena says:

    First minor league season was with Tri-Cities. Local connection! http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=wilson001rus

  6. SeattleAztec says:

    Matthew – We have 7 picks after Wilson and we’ve been damn good at drafting in rounds 4-7 so taking a QB here isn’t a huge risk. Especially a QB with the talent, intelligence, intangibles, and drive to be great. If he was an inch taller at 6’0″ he’d probably go round 2. Oh and you don’t like QBs drafted rounds 2-5? Drew Brees work for ya? A lot of people said he was too short also…

  7. NYCHawkFan says:

    My only thought is that they know exactly who they want in rd 4 and 5. Wilson is intriguing. The PacNW should embrace him as a freak of nature. Just watch his tape. He can hold his own. What he does at the next level remains to be seen so hold your judgement until you seem him play. Russell Wilson has proven them wrong his entire life. Can’t wait to see what happens with him.

  8. bluengreen says:

    The common denominator between Flynn and Wilson is that they are both unique talents who are readily available at the rarest NFL position to fill because they have physical shortcomings that lower their perceived (and possibly real) value.

    I think if used right both of them have a good shot at transcending their limitations and succeeding. I think Pete will understand how to maximize their talent and mitigate the limitation in order to put them in the best position to succeed. I wouldn’t bet against either, and I’ll sure enjoy cheering for both – they both seem easy to cheer for.

    Another guy immediately comes to mind who fits that mold – highly talented with physical limitation that drops his perceived value thus rendering him readily available: Kellen Moore.

    He may have the toughest time transcending his physical limits of the three but there is no denying his talent – he too is special. I’d like a team see what he can actually do in the NFL before relegating him to his apparently destined career as a coach, and I would like that team to be the ‘Hawks because Moore too is someone easy to cheer for.

    I recall Schneider mentioning the possibility of taking more than one QB. I wonder if they might take a flyer on him using one of their late round picks, and if maybe when he said that he had Moore in mind.

  9. [...] open thread for Day three is down below.  Also, don’t miss my Russell Wilson reaction from a few hours [...]

  10. Kip Earlywine says:

    Lemonverbena,

    Are you the same Lemonverbena from Lookoutlanding?

  11. andy says:

    Honestly, i cringed when this pick was made despite knowing how good he really is/can be. The more pressing need of RB still looms and Lamar Miller is still available. Please trade up a little to get him!

  12. SeaTown81 says:

    Add Dave Krieg to your list of Seahawks to come from Wisconsin. He was both born there and played college ball there.

  13. Norm M says:

    Either Flynn or Wilson have the potential to land us a first round pick via trade in the future. I can see one of the two stepping into a successful starting role for the next ten years and the other becoming a wanted commodity in a year or two. I really like both QBs and can’t wait for the competition to begin. On a similar note, Kip could you see any value in Jackson in a trade for picks if Seattle goes with Flynn , Wilson and Portis as rostered QBs? Or will they keep Jackson and Portis goes to the practice squad?

  14. Christon says:

    When I get one of the new Seahawks Jersey’s it won’t read “Irvin” or “Wagner” it will read “Wilson” that’s how stoked I am about this guy. You have every right to be ecstatic. I was out of town, recorded it, and watched it late last night and I was so excited that I didn’t even finish the third round because I could sit still anymore.

  15. Madmark says:

    The Gruden QB camp was a really good look at all the QBs. I had been a Kirk Cousins fan until i saw him on that show. He perfectly polished and says all the right things but when it came to throwing the fade into the endzone he struggled kindia reminded me of a Rick Mirer. I like Wilson and I’m sure he’ll be on the team at the start of the season not as a starter but as the 3rd round backup. Seattle will be fair to TJ and will give him his last year on his contract but he’ll really have to show something to get another one. I think he did his part like charlie did and will be gone next year and another QB will be draft in 2013.

  16. Ryan says:

    Chris McIntosh

  17. Joe The Jarhead says:

    I’m right there with you Kip. I love this Wilson pick. Another long shot with all the chance in the world to totally nail it. I will be rooting for Wilson from Jump Street as I finally have a home grown QB who was OUR choice. Not some retread. I love this pick and couldn’t be more excited

  18. Michael Kelly says:

    This may be my favorite SeahawkDraftblog post of all time!!!. I sometimes feel separated from Seahawk Land by living in Las Vegas, but posts like this make me feel right at home. KEEP HOPE ALIVE!!! :)

  19. Nick in Pullman says:

    I had the exact same reaction! Wilson was the only player that I really hoped they came away from the draft with. I like his maturity, athleticism, ability to adapt to different systems. His experience is a plus. I love that he played in 50 games while in college. He’s only 3 (years and some change) younger than Flynn, too.

    Whenever his opportunity comes, I think he’ll pass Matt Flynn on the depth chart. If we only get marginal play out of Flynn this year, I think Wilson challenges him for the starting job in 2013.

    This year, they’ve got to keep Tarvaris as an experienced back up or to push Flynn for the starting role though, right?

  20. Wilson will win the starting job! says:

    Russell Wilson has stated that he wanted to go to a team where he could compete for the starting job. The Seahawks looks like the perfect situation for that! I just watched film on him from NC State (West Coast Offense) and Wisconsin (Pro Style Offense) this kid is the truth!! Everyone that’s concerned about his height to me it’s a non issue because of his mechanics and his high release. Wilson throw balls 40-50 yards just with the flick of his wrist. This kid has an cannon!! Wilson make defenders look silly the way he move in the pocket when you think you got him he’s gone. Wilson just makes big plays over and over. WR’s will love Russell because his throws are right on target. IMO he’s the best QB in the 2012 class over (Luck, RG3) and no I don’t do Politics. If he’s not name the starter after camp I’ll be shocked!! http://youtu.be/B8r7wLnb1xc http://youtu.be/YmH3JhGeIU0 http://youtu.be/DLmUfUPwjto http://youtu.be/-PcsUqKaftU http://youtu.be/gAgCHnsH7HY http://youtu.be/37m0CHifAYA http://youtu.be/_bJsBSQaWHc http://youtu.be/_9mIG7OmCVo http://youtu.be/u9_itWlncDU