How Good Can Seattle Seahawks' Russell Wilson Be in 2013?

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How Good Can Seattle Seahawks' Russell Wilson Be in 2013?

Can Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks build off a stellar rookie campaign? Just how good will the young quarterback be in 2013? Will he regress? 

In order to answer these questions, it's important to take a gander at a few different outside factors, some of which likely have absolutely no impact on Wilson's ability to succeed as a sophomore. To a certain extent, it's also worth looking at recent historical comparisons.

The 2012 NFL draft class at this position has to be considered one of the best in the entire history of the league. Among the most surprising players of that dominating group was Wilson. 

What the former North Carolina State and Wisconsin signal-caller did as a rookie was nothing short of amazing. 

Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Cam Newton's record-setting rookie performance doesn't compare to Wilson.

Cam Newton was considered the trendsetter for rookie quarterbacks after his display back in 2011. The Carolina Panthers starter tallied over 4,700 total yards and 35 touchdowns. He also turned the ball over a whopping 19 times in 643 total touches (runs and passes). 

Over the course of Wilson's rookie season, he turned the ball over just 13 times. Postseason included, Wilson tallied just five turnovers in his final 13 games. 

To give you a bit of a historical look, it's important to compare Wilson's rookie campaign to other stellar rookie performances of the past (Dan Marino and Peyton Manning come to mind). But given how much the game has changed over the years, the best comparisons likely come from more recent history, most notably the past two seasons.

Newton and the Panthers may have improved vastly from the prior season, but they still only won six games in his first year. That pretty much disables our ability to compare him (or any other 2011 rookie QB, since Newton topped them all) to what we saw from Wilson's draftmates this past season. 

Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Wilson all led their clubs to the postseason in their rookie campaigns. They did so after each of their organizations missed the playoffs the prior season. 

Let's take a look at how the three stacked up as rookies this past season. 

2012 Rookie Quarterback Comparisons 

Player

Team Comp % Total Yards Total TD INT Rating
Robert Griffin III Washington 65.6 4,015 27 5 102.4
Russell Wilson Seattle 64.1 3,607 30 10 100.0
Andrew Luck Indianapolis 54.1 4,629 28 18 76.5

 

Statistically, RGIII had the best season, and it isn't even that close. By those standards, his rookie performance trumps any in the history of the league. 

The Baylor product also helped Washington improve a great deal on the offensive side of the ball. The Redskins ranked fourth in the NFL in scoring offense (27.3 PPG) a year after finishing 26th in that category (18.0). 

On the other side of the ledger, Luck struggled with turnovers (23 total) and completed only 54 percent of his passes. 

Wilson's postseason performance, first against Washington and then Atlanta, is what set him apart from the rest of the rookie class. He tallied 699 total yards and four touchdowns compared to just one interception. Wilson also nearly led Seattle back in an amazing comeback effort against the Falcons in the divisional round. In total, he put up 445 yards and three scores in that game. 

That's the biggest indicator of success moving forward: the ability to play like that on the road in the postseason as a rookie. 

The Seahawks offense picked up steam toward the latter part of the season. Where it seemed the plan was to protect Wilson early in the season, the coaching staff showed more confidence in him as things progressed. That's the best possible way to handle a young quarterback in the NFL. 

Wilson responded. 

Seattle averaged 34 points and 400 yards per game in their final seven outings of the regular season. It wasn't a coincidence that the Seahawks went 6-1 during that span (via Pro-Football-Reference). 

For his part, Wilson compiled a ridiculous 118.9 quarterback rating with 13 touchdowns compared to two interceptions in those seven games.

To put that into perspective, those numbers were better than what we saw from Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Drew Brees during that span. 

That's pretty remarkable for a rookie quarterback with just nine previous NFL starts under his belt. 

 

Wilson's 2013 Outlook

No one really expects Wilson's upward trajectory to continue at the same pace as we saw during the final seven games and the playoffs last year. If that did happen, we would be looking at production similar to what we saw from Aaron Rodgers during the 2011 season. 

That's unrealistic. 

What we can expect from Wilson is continued progression as a sophomore. His ability to read defenses from the pocket coupled with great accuracy leads me to believe that he will be able to fix other issues on the field. 

For instance, he tends to hold on to the ball too long, which caused him to get sacked at times when he could have easily thrown the ball away. In addition, his ability to throw down the field (20-plus yards) outside the right hash lacked a bit. 

According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), that was the only part of the field beyond the line of scrimmage in which Wilson failed to reach triple digits in his quarterback rating. In addition, 30 percent of his interceptions came when he threw the ball 20-plus yards outside the right hash. That's alarming, considering only five percent of his passes went that way. 

Stephen Brashear/Getty Images
Percy Harvin give Russell Wilson that No.1-type wide receiver.

A few things here. 

First, the acquisition of Percy Harvin in a trade with the Minnesota Vikings is surely going to help Wilson down the field. Harvin is a huge upgrade for Seattle's receiving corps.

Second, he should be more decisive in the pocket with an entire season under his belt. It's that type of natural progression that leads me to believe he will be an absolute stud in 2013.

If those are our two biggest concerns for this young quarterback, then he is in pretty darn good shape moving forward.  

Don't be surprised to see Wilson tally over 4,300 yards and 40 total touchdowns this season. Even if that doesn't happen, regression seems completely out of the question. 

All the indicators are there for Wilson to continue his upward trajectory and become one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL once the 2013 season comes to a close. 

 

Vincent Frank is an NFL featured columnist here at Bleacher Report. Vincent is the head sports editor over at eDraft, co-host of Draft Sports Radio, which airs every Monday and Wednesday from 3 to 6 p.m. ET, and a fantasy writer for Pro Football Focus.

Go ahead and give him a follow on Twitter @VincentFrankNFL.

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