It would be easy to say the Seahawks went off the deep end again Friday night, but they chose from the shallowest end of the talent pool.
By selecting Russell Wilson of Wisconsin, who at 5-foot-11 would be one of the shortest quarterbacks in recent NFL history, the Seahawks went against the form chart again in the NFL draft, stretching Friday as they did Thursday with the first-round pick, defensive end Bruce Irvin.
“People tell me that I’m too short — they’ve been telling me that my whole life,” Wilson, who led the college nation in quarterback efficiency, said by teleconference after the Seahawks drafted him in the third round (75th overall). “From my perspective, I think the main thing is I have all the other tools. I have big hands, long arms and I think the main thing is I have a big heart.”
Naturally, coach Pete Carroll was quick to overlook the obvious shortcoming too.
“Russell has such incredible athleticism and has had historic success,” he said. “He’s an extraordinary kid who can handle all the pressure and scrutiny. More than anyone alive in the draft, gives you a chance to have a great player. All he’s ever done is be great.”
Wilson graduated in three years from North Carolina State, where he played baseball as well as football. He wanted to give pro baseball a try, but the day after Colorado drafted him in the fourth round, his father died. Not long after, he decided baseball wasn’t for him, and he wanted to pursue football again.
The first freshman to be named All-ACC first-team quarterback transferred to Wisconsin for a fourth season. In two weeks, he was voted team captain by his new teammates. In three weeks he mastered the playbook. In six months, he had the Badgers in the Rose Bowl against Oregon.
Said GM John Schneider: “He’s extremely talented and he gains the trust of everyone around him. He can tilt a room.”
The question is whether the tilt slides Tarvaris Jackson out of Seattle. The veteran incumbent starter was already challenged by the arrival of free agent QB Matt Flynn from Green Bay. And now the Seahawks draft a QB who wouldn’t be much a of threat except that the pick was fairly high if the Seahawks were merely looking for training-camp fodder.
Including last year’s third string QB, Josh Portis, the Seahawks have four QBs, and the first draftee in Carroll’s three drafts in Seattle.
“Perfect,” said Schneider. “Ideal situation.”
Smooth and articulate, Wilson has made his sports career out of beating back doubters.
“You’ve got to be able to compete at the highest level — I played in two great, great conferences in the ACC and the Big-10,” he said. “I’ve shown that I can play at a very high level and be very productive with the football. I think the main thing is just being efficient, being a facilitator of the football and getting there to work every single day and compete.”
The Seahawks will complete the draft’s final four rounds beginning at 9 a.m Saturday with seven picks, having acquired three additional picks in the past two days by trading down in the draft.