Because Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III were the No. 1 and 2 overall picks in the draft, it’s understandable that they’re generating the most hype. But don’t forget the rookie quarterback that everyone doubted that’s playing out in the Pacific Northwest, who’s putting up just as many wins and impressive stats.
Russell Wilson may not have the Olympic-level speed that Griffin has, or the perfect NFL-ready technique that Luck flashes on a weekly basis, but the 5-foot-10 Seattle rookie is carving out his own resume for Offensive Rookie of the Year.
The Seahawks are sitting at 7-5 on the season, and the team is riding on Wilson’s shoulders. He’s completed 63.4 percent of his passes for 2,344 yards, 19 touchdowns and just eight interceptions. He shows the poise and decision-making of a veteran, and he’s a natural leader that took over the Seahawks’ clubhouse just as he did a year ago with the Wisconsin Badgers.
No one may have seen this spectacular rookie season coming back in April when Wilson was drafted in the third round by Seattle, but as soon as Wilson started playing during the preseason it was obvious who the future franchise quarterback for the Seahawks was — and it wasn’t Matt Flynn. Wilson, like Griffin and Luck, “wows” weekly for the Hawks.
Obviously no one expected Wilson to be this good, though there were certainly flashes of it during his NC State and Wisconsin careers. There were rumblings during the draft process that Wilson was too short to make it in the NFL — he wouldn’t be able to see over his offensive line, he’ll constantly have his passes batted, that he was a candidate to switch positions, but Wilson shrugged them all off in stride.
What makes Wilson special is his elite mobility at the position. No one — save for Griffin — can roll out on a bootleg, spin away from a defender and make a precise throw on the run like Wilson. Wilson’s height — due to his lower center of gravity — can at times be used as a weapon. Sure, he needs to roll out of the pocket more often, but he’s also deadly accurate on those throws. His high release point makes his lack-of height less of a factor in general.
There’s no telling how Wilson will progress in the NFL because we’ve never seen a player like him before. He’s not Doug Flutie, he’s not Steve Young and he’s not Drew Brees, but he could be some sort of weird combination of those players. That’s pretty good company for a third-round pick that some draft analysts laughed at when the pick went through.
While Luck has led his team to a better record and shown flashes of brilliance, Wilson has actually been the better, more consistent player this season. To argue the case of Luck, Griffin or Wilson shows just how special this rookie class is so far. Throw in Brandon Weeden‘s second-half improvements, Ryan Tannehill‘s potential and the rare flashes we’ve seen out of Nick Foles and Ryan Lindley, and we could be comparing this quarterback class to the famed 1983 group one day.
When talking about the best rookies of 2012, Wilson’s name may not be mentioned with Luck and Griffin, but it should be.