Making the Case for Russell Wilson as NFL's Rookie of the Year

Alex Field@@afield7Correspondent IIJanuary 8, 2013

LANDOVER, MD - JANUARY 06:  Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks runs the ball during their NFC Wild Card Playoff Game against the Washington Redskins at FedExField on January 6, 2013 in Landover, Maryland.  (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

With the NFL regular season over, the Rookie of the Year Award is a three-horse race. Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson are the only players worthy of hoisting the award.

Being the first overall pick, Luck resurrected his Indianapolis Colts from a laughingstock to an 11-5 team. Griffin found similar success with the Washington Redskins, helping his team double its win total of the previous season and leading it to a division crown.

Wilson exceeded all expectations, winning the starting job along with the admiration of all Seahawks fans. He posted wins over Green Bay, New England, Minnesota, Chicago and San Francisco, among others, on the way to an 11-5 regular-season record. 

The thing that should differentiate Wilson, however, is what he had to overcome to even get into the ROY conversation. Coming into the season, both Luck and Griffin were being hailed as franchise saviors, and, as such, they both would immediately start.

Wilson, on the other hand, would have to compete for a starting role. As a third-rounder, standing at 5'10'', he had to beat out the Seahawks' biggest free-agency acquisition, Matt Flynn. Wilson was composed and professional throughout, even after losing the season-opening game at Arizona.

The numbers don’t tell the whole story.

Griffin III finished with 3,200 passing yards and 20 touchdown passes with five interceptions. He also had 815 rushing yards and seven touchdowns on the ground.

Wilson had 3,118 passing yards and 26 touchdown passes with 10 interceptions. He ran for 489 yards and had four rushing touchdowns.

Luck finished with a monstrous 4,374 yards through the air and 23 touchdowns, but he threw 18 interceptions.

Each quarterback set records this season: Griffin had the highest quarterback rating ever for a rookie; Wilson tied Peyton Manning for the most touchdown passes by a first-year quarterback; Luck set the rookie mark for most passing yards in a season.

The Colts were outscored this year by 30 points, yet Luck still led them to 11 wins. They were the only playoff team to have a negative point differential during the regular season. Luck led some magnificent fourth-quarter drives, and they were counting on him to air it out for most of the season.

When Griffin III wasn't handing it off to dynamic rookie Alfred Morris, he was counted on to make plays with his arm and legs. His ability to run led to some impressive numbers and kept defenses off-balance.

Wilson played for a more well-rounded team, especially on defense. But once it was obvious how dynamic a playmaker Wilson could be, his numbers really spiked. From Week 10 on, Wilson tossed 16 touchdowns to only two interceptions.

The Seahawks played the 11th-toughest schedule in the league. Compare that to Indianapolis (14) and Washington (24), and Wilson's numbers look even more impressive. 

All three rookies had great years, but Wilson deserves the award.