Guest Post: Is RGIII 18 times better than Russell Wilson?

Why so sad? Oh yes, you just lost to the 1-6 Carolina Panthers

Written by Michael Matherne…

The Washington Redskins gave up an unprecedented amount of draft capital to grab Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III. At the time, most national pundits were on board with the move and many Seahawks fans looked on longingly as the Redskins secured their “franchise QB”. Who could blame them? The quarterback position is the most important in any major american sport. RGIII has a unique blend of athletic ability, deadly accuracy, and even media appeal.

After four consecutive seasons of sub-par QB play, many Seahawks fans and media were critical of Pete Carroll and John Schneider’s unwillingness to give up the proverbial “farm” as Washington just had. 193 days, one controversial quarterback competition and five thrilling victories later, it’s time to re-evaluate the ‘Hawks biggest off-season decision in recent memory.

When you look at the draft capital spent to acquire each player the comparison between Griffin and Wilson is pretty astounding. Using the standard draft pick valuation chart (loosely used in draft pick trades) we can assign a very inexact numerical value to each draft pick and get a basic idea of what each team gave up for their new passer.

The Redskins packaged three first round picks as well as a second rounder to move into position for RGIII. If we use the reverse order of ESPN’s week nine power rankings we can take an educated guess that Washingtons 2013 pick will end up as approximately the 14th overall choice.

Let’s say they improve enough in 2014 to clinch a wildcard and even win a playoff game, putting their 2014 pick at around #25 or #26 overall. That is a pretty generous assumption and if we operate under this projection you get the following draft value numbers:

6th overall pick in the 2012 draft – 1600 chart value

39th overall pick in the 2012 draft – 510 chart value

14th overall pick in the 2013 draft – 1100 chart value

26th overall pick in the 2014 draft – 700 chart value

Total – 3910 chart value

Here is what it cost the Seahawks to put Russell Wilson under center in Seattle:

75th overall pick in 2012 draft – 215 chart value

Some simple arithmetic reveals that the Washington Redskins coughed up roughly 18 times more to get Griffin than the Seattle Seahawks did to get Wilson.

3910/215 = 18.19

Was it worth it? Through nine weeks the two signal callers have put up the following lines:

Griffin – 65.6 CMP% 8 TD’s 3 INT’s for a 93.9 QB rating

Wilson – 62.0 CMP% 13 TD’s 8 INT’s for a 87.2 QB rating

Throw in RGIII’s 476 rushing yards and 6 additional TD’s (along with one concussion) and you can make a decent argument that Griffin has been more valuable so far than Wilson, but has he been 18 times more valuable? I hardly think so. In fact I think RGIII vs. RW is a lot like a house in San Francisco versus an identical house in Bozeman, Montana. That’s right Bozeites, I think living in Montana is the real world equivalent of being a 5-11 quarterback. I would begrudgingly apologize, but I’m not totally convinced you guys have the internet yet, so you will likely never read this anyway.

Getting back on track, the more important question is how will they perform over the course of their careers? Would anyone in their right mind bet that Griffin wins 18x more playoff games than Wilson, or for that matter 18x the number of Super Bowls? A quick peek at the law of diminishing returns makes you think twice before taking that wager up with your bar buddies.

Ultimately nine games do not define a quarterback’s career and history has shown that both players could end up being superstars or busts. But after those nine game it could be argued that the Seahawks got far better “value” in selecting Russell Wilson than the Redskins did by picking Robert Griffin III.


  1. Colin

    If Robert Griffin III wins them a Super Bowl, it will be worth it. Bottom line.

    I don’t think he has been 18X better, but he does have so many things going for him (physical freak, insanely intelligent, good offensive minded HC). Too early to judge.

    But I like where our boy Russell is at.

    • Rob Staton

      I think what I take out this debate is how good the Seahawks are at making judgement calls on prospects, finding value beyond the first two rounds and coaching guys into starters very quickly. That’s a great combination. And in potentially finding a QBOTF in round three they’ve avoided the kind of handcuff Washington has made to one guy. Robert Griffin III isn’t going to win a Super Bowl on his own and the Skins don’t have a first round pick now until 2015. Their current roster isn’t good enough. And while they’re relying on RGIII to carry the team, Seattle can spend the next three years building around Russell Wilson.

      • Colin

        No, but much can change very quickly. Russell Wilson isn’t a guaranteed success despite this start, and RG3 and the Skins aren’t doomed to be mediocre for the next 5 years.

        • Rob Staton

          Sure, but it’s going to be harder for Washington to build around their QB. And even the best QB’s need a supporting cast.

        • Tyler Jorgensen

          Nor is RGIII a guaranteed success despite this start.

          The difference, and the point is the expenditure in order to acquire him is substantial comparatively. If Wilson busts, we’re out a third rounder and in season development time. If RGIII does, the penalty for the franchise is monstrous.

          But quite honestly, I just don’t see how Russell wont be a success at this point. He just makes sound decisions. I will admit my heart skipped a beat when he took a tough hard sack Sunday. I thought, “Not now, not when we’ve finally got the guy we always wanted.” But… he popped right back up, no worries.

  2. kevin mullen

    I don’t know if I would say that RG3 is 18times better, but you could say that Washington bought 18times more shares on one stock versus the ‘Hawks.

    I would put it in the sense of a portfolio, as it stands: the ‘Hawks have a very diversified portfolio, risk is spread throughout the roster, not really committed to one “stock” financially. As where the Redskins decided to purchase Facebook (RG3) at IPO prices and are starting to see that the stock isn’t as valuable as it was on opening day.

    You could make a case that RG3 is more gifted on talent level and short term individual success, but if I were a long term investor looking at steady conservative gains, the Carroll/Schneider/McCloughan Group is a firm I’d like to do business with.

    • Tyler Jorgensen

      Interesting analogy, but not sure if it is completely correct.

      Remember too, that in addition to comparing it to buying 18times more shares on one stock vs. the Hawks, they also BORROWED MONEY in order to purchase said stock.

      That certainly increases the risk.

  3. caleb

    Hmm, interesting idea.

    I do think you are conflating the idea of 18x more valuable and 18x more expensive, however. The idea that they ‘paid’, in draft stock, 18 times what we ‘paid’ for Russell Wilson cannot be expected to to translate to quantitative measurables and Superbowl trophies, etc. By that rational, selecting a defensive end in the first round, pick 16(1000 points) should out-sack opposing QBs by a factor of two, compared to the round two-pick 16 defensive end.

    Personally, i believe that what the redskins gave up was right for what RGIII could be worth, given the circumstances. We in Seattle should know better than most how rarely a franchise QB comes along. Given this, i think anybody, including our team, would have sprung for RGIII if we were in the situation the redskins were. Keep in mind that RGIII is a prototypical Shanahan QB, and to pass up on such rare talent would be unforgivable, particularly if they had to watch him grow into the player he is, on another team.

    What makes this argument slightly flawed, too, is that you are assessing the draft time value of a prospect, yet applying that value as though all parties were aware of such abilities at the time of drafting. Where as RGIII was a destined star for the NFL, Russel Wilson was surrounded by legitimate concerns about his ability to succeed, including on this site. Yes it is easier to look back and say yeah, i told ya so, russell wilson was a bargain, but nobody thought he he would be where he is today, on draft day. For evidence of this, look no further than the FO bringing in Matt Flyn on a 3 year, multi-million dollar deal of a starting QB. You do not do that if you believe your third round rookie will become comparable to a first round QB selection.

    While yes, I think we got the best steal of the draft by a long shot, it is unwise to look at history backwards to manifest an argument on draft capitol vs. skill set. Ultimately, I believe that both Wilson and RGIII will have great, long and healthy careers(no more concussions though, Robert). What we pay for something ultimately regains its value in return on some set time scale. 10 years down the road, i doubt Shanahan will regret his decision any more than Pete, so long as both qbs maintain the trajectory of their performance growth.

    • Hawksince77

      I was with you until:

      “For evidence of this, look no further than the FO bringing in Matt Flyn on a 3 year, multi-million dollar deal of a starting QB. You do not do that if you believe your third round rookie will become comparable to a first round QB selection.”

      They signed Flynn well before the draft, and although they targeted Wilson, had no guarantees they would actually draft him. In fact, I would argue that signing Flynn allowed them to pass on Wilson in the second round and take a starting MLB and pushing the draft envelope for Wilson until the third.

      As Rob point out above, the real comparison is scouting and the best use of draft capital. Landing a starting QB in the 3rd round is exactly the opposite of what Washington did to get RGIII, spending more draft picks than I would argue any player is worth, for exactly the reason Rob points out: it takes a team, and without a good to excellent supporting cast, no QB will succeed.

      Bottom line – I think the ‘skins got it wrong (had I been a fan of the team, I’da been pissed) and the Seahawks got it right. And Indy got it right. Piss away the season before a generational talent comes around – don’t piss away your most valuable draft capital to aquire one.

  4. A. Simmons

    It’s pretty rare you find a 3rd round QB that can play like Wilson, much less start his first year, like once in several decades rare. It might be once in NFL history rare if Russell keeps on improving. Heck, It’s pretty rare to find a first round QB that can play as well as Wilson. I give John Schneider a huge amount of respect for seeing past the height and drafting Wilson. I give Pete a huge amount of respect for backing the play of the general manager, giving a 3rd round undersized rookie a chance to start, and sticking by him through the development process. For Russell Wilson to go from longshot to ever start an NFL game to possible playoff QB will be a unique event in NFL history.

    Things like this usually don’t happen to Seattle. I’m hoping this unique event turns into another unique event: A Superbowl Win.

    • Hawksince77

      To add to your point, Seattle was the perfect place for Wilson to land, given the HC’s philosophy about playing young guys and the best players, and the nature of the offense, one that fits Wilson really well.

      Really a perfect fit, all the way around. Had Wilson been drafted by just about anyone else, he’d likely have rotted on the bench indefinitely, his HC afraid to take the chance and take the heat that Seattle fan’s have fried PC with.

  5. The Ancient Mariner

    FWIW, Bozeman’s home to the main campus of Montana State University — not a huge school, but they do have 14,000 students; they’re part of the Big Sky Conference (and charter members). 🙂

  6. Phil

    The way that the Redskins are using RGIII, I have real doubts that he is going to remain healthy and productive for long. Whereas RW is a throw-first, scramble later QB, RGIII seems much more willing to run and to sacrifice his body to pick up a few extra yards. Only time will tell if his career lasts long enough for him to become an elite QB and for the Redskins to be able to justify the investment they made in him.

    • Michael

      I agree. A few of my friends were complaining about RW coming up a yard short on that slide against the Vikes, but I love that RW doesn’t take unnecessary punishment. Not only does it keep him healthy, it helps limit turnovers as well.

      RG3 – 6 Fumbles
      Vick – 6 Fumbles
      RW – 2 Fumbles

      • Hawksince77

        That’s a good point. Wilson has been extremely careful in his runs, and only gets hit when it comes unexpected. Some fans might think this a weakness of his games (although I haven’t heard where anyone has said so) but I believe he is playing EXACTLY like he is being coached. PC tells him (I am sure) do NOT let yourself get hit, and he doesn’t.

        Very very smart, as any additional yardage he might get would be overwhelmingly poor trade for the punishment. Remember Hasselbeck’s runs: brave but stupid, too.

  7. Attyla the Hawk

    Interesting comparison. Particularly since both franchises have somewhat mirrored each other in terms of team success over the last several years between 2008 and 2011.

    I would even submit that the difference in cost is undervalued. While both Seattle and Washington have had similar success of late, our suffering was precipitated as the byproduct of several years of success.

    Washington has had two winning seasons since 2000. So they’ve been fortunate enough to have a lot of draft choices in the top half of every round. They should be loaded with talent after years of bad records and valuable draft stock. In looking at their draft history, it’s easy to see why they are such a perennially bad team. Outside of their first round picks, their success at drafting beyond day one is atrocious.

    Given the history of this franchise at recognizing talent, this trade may well preclude them from adding any quality players for the next 3 years. Where we have grown to expect 1 to 3 quality starters in day 2 and 3 each year, Washington produced very poor results.

    It’s not even an accurate comparison to think colloquially how Seattle would fare losing 3 first round picks. In essence, Washington has almost executed a Ricky Williams trade in three successive years for Griffin. Because by and large, they have not been able to produce starter quality players without them

    It shouldn’t be a surprise that one team is 5-4 playing in probably the second toughest division in football, while Washington is 3-6 in a very mediocre NFC East. The comparison to the relative value of Wilson and Griffin should really play out in wins and losses over these next several seasons. Maybe even the next 5 seasons. Washington is going to have to really remake it’s scouting/FO in order to lessen the impact of losing those first round picks.

  8. Brandon

    Heeyyy, Montana jokes! Never heard those before. Like, ever.

    I really don’t like evaluations based on abstract value. Nobody is going to care how expensive RG3 is as long as he works out, and nobody’s going to care how cheap Wilson was if he crashes and burns. It’s nice that he came cheap, but I still support the right of a franchise to do whatever it takes to find the crucial piece of the puzzle, because the only real criteria of a risky move is how well it’s handled after April.

    • Rob Staton

      I think it’s also worth noting that Washington pretty much had to make a move. The Seahawks were 7-9 last year with a growing defense, a very good ground game and an unsatisfactory QB situation which has since been addressed. Washington was 5-11 without much at all to build around. They were flip-flopping between Grossman and Beck at quarterback. And that’s a much more demanding franchise overall with – dare I say – a much more demanding fan base. So we have to consider these things. Right now Shanahan can make a case for keeping his job because RGIII suits the system and the investment has been made – Washington is all-in now on Griffin. If Shanahan and the GM there don’t make a move, it’s much easier to fire and re-hire without any lasting long term investment. The situation dictated a move on Washington’s behalf. It was never a realistic proposition for Seattle picking nearer the middle of round on and much less necessity to make such a dramatic move.

    • Hawksince77

      The only issue with being happy if it works out with RGIII, is that that franchise put themselves into a terrible hole with the trade they made. No matter how good RGIII is, and no matter how many records he breaks (if any), it won’t matter if the trade mired the team in perpetual mediocrity, a real possibilty.

      On the other hand, if Wilson crashes, the franchise still has a first round pick to spend on a QB, should that be necessary. Given that that will be unlikely, they have a first round pick to spend on a top playmaker on offense or defense.

      Huge difference, either way. The Redskins totally screwed the pooch, in my opinion, no matter how good RGIII ends up being. It will take 5-7 years to recover, and by then, be might be playing for a different team.

    • Michael

      I keep hearing this argument that, “Nobody is going to care how expensive RG3 is as long as he works out.”

      That’s not the point. of course people are willing to give up anything for a franchise QB, but there are no guarantees that’s what RG3 will become. If he gets hit by a bus, you’ve probably just set the franchise back at least 3-4 years, Shanahan and the whole FO is out of a job, and have fun pitching to new head coaches and GM’s with, “So we are looking to build this thing from the ground up… and oh by the way, no first round pick the next 2 years.”

      You also said that, “nobody’s going to care how cheap Wilson was if he crashes and burns.” I could not disagree with that statement more. If Russell Wilson ceased to exist tomorrow morning, the Seahawks would still have an incredibly young top 5 defense, and a great running game. They would basically be where they would’ve had Russell Wilson decided to go play for the Rockies. If Wilson tanks, the most commonly uttered phrase about him will be, “Well it only cost us a 3rd round pick… Time to see what Matt Flynn’s got!”

      The main point of this article is that at this point in time, both QB’s are playing good football, and every person in the world would like to pay less for the same result… That is the cornerstone of about 1/3 of all advertising. Obviously if either one fails, that team is going to be pissed. But if they both fail, or even if they both succeed, Seattle will have gotten a better deal.

      Let me put it this way: Your the new GM of the Jacksonville Jaguars. You can either Trade 3 first round picks and a second rounder for Tom Brady, or a 3rd round pick for Drew Brees. What do you do? Or how about instead, you have to trade 3 1st’s and a 2nd for Jamarcus Russell, or give up a 3rd rounder for Ryan Leaf. Which do you choose there? So long as the results are equal, the Seahawks will have always gotten the better deal.

      • Brandon

        1. It’s not appropriate to speculate based on events beyond the organization’s control like “getting hit by a bus”. That could happen to anyone and be used to discourage ANY team from using more than a fourth-round pick if the arguer wished. There may not be guarantees of what RG3 becomes, but there are guarantees of what will happen if they DON’T get a QB. And in this case, multiple picks was what it took for Shanahan to get that QB.

        2. You’re basing your argument off your opinion of both Wilson and Flynn. If Wilson crashes and burns, the Seahawks will suffer. Wilson has been outplaying his third-round status for a month now, and Seattle is winning increasingly because of him, not despite him. Matt Flynn is not the answer. He does not fit Seattle’s offense at all, and had his true value hinted at when the entire league (including very QB-hungry teams) shrugged at him during the offseason. Without Wilson, we’re in a very bad spot, great defense or no.

        3. If Drew Brees were regularly available in the 3rd round, the 3rd round success rate of QB drafting would be a hell of a lot higher than it is. Of course I’d go for an obvious Brees in the 3rd, but QB’s are never that easy to extrapolate at draft time. Your last paragraph removes the element of risk, which was the foundation of all your last four paragraphs.

        • Michael

          If Wilson busts the Seahawks would still have a first round pick with which to draft a replacement

          • Colin

            The odds of Wilson busting were/are greater than that of RG3. With Wilson, the Seahawks took a chance on something that has not happened before.

            So even though the Redskins paid a fortune more than Seattle, they weren’t taking quite the shot in the dark Seattle was.

  9. Chris

    I wonder where RW would be drafted if we were to redo the draft. A lot of why the 18x cost sounds ridiculous is that we now think of RW with his after-draft value, not his pre-draft value. Probably no one would’ve argued for using our 1st round pick on RW before the draft if that’s what it would’ve taken to get him. To me the comparison says a lot more about how well RW has performed since the draft, not how much of a rip off getting RG3 was.

    • Rob Staton

      If the draft was re-done I think Wilson would be a top-15 pick.

      • Bellevue

        I agree. And I would add that if Russell Wilson was 6-2 or taller he would have been a top 15 pick as well. He has all the tools and intangibles to be a first round pick, teams just discounted him because he was’t that prototypical size that they are looking for. The end result was that the Seahawks got 1st round quality player for a 3rd round pick. Definition of great value right there.

  10. CFR

    Question: Due to Russell’s success, I can’t see a situation where Flynn is moved before the end of the season since the Seahawks are currently in playoff contention (and should be until the end). However, what do you think about the possibility of him being moved in the offseason? I don’t think it’d be that crazy for them to trade him if they were able to get picks that would make the STARTING roster better and also resign a lower end, but still dependable backup. A scenario that makes sense in my mind but probably not in real life is Flynn and a lower pick for Cassell (with a restructured contract), Bowe, and a mid round pick. Cassell would still be a solid backup QB, Bowe would solve a huge need (imagine Sidney as our number TWO; just scary), and we’d still get a better pick. Doubt that that (or anything close to it) ends up happening but a guy can dream. Realistically, if we can ship off Flynn after the season for a 3rd (or higher), I’d do it in a second (especially considering the value we got in that round last year). Anything less and I’d rather have him on my bench in the case of an injury to Wilson.

    • Rob Staton

      The trade deadline has now passes so nobody can be traded until the new league year in March.

      • CFR

        True, completely forgot about that. Was talking about a potential trade AFTER the season though anyways! Wouldn’t make sense to move a very good backup QB when your starter is a rookie

        • Michael

          I have a hard time seeing anyone give up more than a 4th rounder for Flynn. He will be 28 at the start of next season, has 2 games of regular season experience, and very little upside due to his physical limitations. If a team running an unfamiliar system brings him in he could be damn near thirty before it really clicks between him, the WR’s and OC, and even then his ceiling is probably Matt Hasselbeck (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Of course it’s possible his age is not an issue at all to some teams, considering that 1st rounder the Browns wasted on Weeden.

          I really hope I am wrong and some team out there is as stupid as KC was when they grabbed Cassell, but I think the only scenario that would move Flynn out of Seattle via trade is an Aaron Rodgers injury.

          • CFR

            Very good points. I don’t think that it will happen, just trying to get a discussion going on the possibility and on what people think we could get for him. I’m just speculating, but the teams that could maybe be interested at the end of this season are: Kansas City, Philly (Vick will be gone after this season and all they have is Foles), Minnesota (If Ponder ends this season the way it’s going now, they’d be smart to bring in some competition), and, just for fun, Arizona (LOL).

            • Michael

              Interesting point about Minnesota. I can’t see KC doing it since it would be so similar to the move they made for Cassell, and we’ve all seen how that has worked out. Arizona could also make a little sense because if Ken Whisenhunt gets fired the new HC might want to move on from the Kolb/Skelton era, and if he doesn’t get fired he will certainly need to do something different to keep his job after 2013.

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