Congratulations, Russell Wilson.
Not only are you the starting quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks, but you are now the new poster child for how much the NFL draft can be a complete guessing game.
For many years, the poster-child position has been filled by former sixth-round pick Tom Brady. Granted, Brady will likely remain in the top spot for superstars that were selected in the later rounds given his career accomplishments.
However, Russell Wilson is starting to inch up that list.
Wilson’s 2,492 yards, 20 touchdowns and nine interceptions are clearly not Brady-like numbers (3,833 yards, 29 touchdowns, three interceptions). Still, for those that are fans of the quarterback rating, Russell has worked his way up the list, and he now has the seventh-best rating in the NFL.
Not bad for a rookie picked in the third round.
Obviously, one should not be too quick to compare Wilson and Brady. Once Wilson has a few Super Bowl rings, then the real comparisons can occur. However, they are linked by the realities of the draft. In 2012, 32 teams (including the Seahawks) did not see a reason to spend a first or second-round pick on Wilson.
Would a few teams draft differently if they could do it all over? Perhaps.
You look at the process that teams go through before they make their selections. Film sessions. Workouts. Background checks. Interviews. Written tests.
How in the world are people supposed to make educated decisions? It sort of explains why there are draft “busts.” You have to assume that the individuals making the original decision on a player like JaMarcus Russell believed that everything would work out.
Many of us know what this feels like in our own lives. Football is a unique environment, but it does not change the fact that you just do not know how people are going to perform.
Job seekers can dress up and say all the right things in an interview. However, if they were forced to be honest, some would have to admit that upon getting the job, they would quickly look for ways to slack off, steal office supplies and make inappropriate comments around the office.
I imagine the NFL has a few parallels.
What was it about Russell Wilson that made Seattle pick him in the third round? Obviously every draft pick is valuable, but if you are talking about “projects,” those are usually selected in later rounds. Something told the Seattle brass that this guy was something special, and that the other teams had missed it.
Maybe it was just about the height. In a recent interview with Dan Patrick, Wilson talked about his height. He talked about how tries to “play tall” and that his height does not define his skill set.
Wise words. Obviously many NFL teams thought differently.
Incidentally, when you hear Wilson interviewed, you cannot help but like him. He exudes confidence and poise, but he does not come off as confident or arrogant.
This is, again, the dilemma of drafting players. Throughout the years, there have been freakishly-talented athletes, hard workers and good “character” guys. And yet, some of them get picked and fail miserably on Sundays.
Why? The smartest football minds may never know.
The quarterback position has been a particularly intriguing study in draft contrasts. For every Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan, there is a JaMarcus Russell, Ryan Leaf or Akili Smith.
Perhaps it is our expectations. Since Wilson was a third-round pick, there is less pressure to succeed. When a quarterback is picked high in the first round and paid millions of dollars up front, there can be incredible expectations.
Granted, we cannot get ahead of ourselves. Wilson has not even played a full season, and while Seattle fans hope for continued success, it would not shock anyone if he struggled at some point.
The same can be said for the entire quarterback-heavy 2012 draft. Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III look like good picks now, but nothing is guaranteed in the NFL.
With so many decisions in life, we look for a reference point. We try to compare an upcoming decision to a past decision.
In sports, this is manifested in comparing players. How many times have we heard a coach or analyst say, “He reminds me of a young (insert current star here).”
Does Russell Wilson compare to anyone? Is Drew Brees really the only quarterback that we can come up with simply because neither signal caller is of towering stature?
Maybe Russell Wilson is just, well, himself.
The Seahawks took a bit of a gamble on Russell Wilson. So far, that gamble is paying off.
Congratulations, Russell Wilson.