BY SPNW Staff 03:02PM 05/14/2012

Is Russell Wilson Really In Seahawks’ QB Mix?

Russell Wilson impressed in the rookie mini camp. The question is, does he have a chance to start ahead of Matt Flynn and Tarvaris Jackson? Vote here.

Pete Carroll - Sounders-Union - March 2010

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll says Russell Wilson’s performance  warrants including the rookie from Wisconsin in the competition for starting quarterback. / Andy Rogers, Red Box Pictures

It mystified most NFL draft experts when the Seahawks, selecting in the third round, latched onto University of Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson. His first negative, according to critics: Lack of height (5-foot-11). His second: the Seahawks had, only weeks earlier, guaranteed Matt Flynn $10 million over two years after acquiring him in free agency from the Green Bay Packers.

Tony Pauline of CNNSI.com summarized widespread sentiment on Wilson best when he wrote, “The Seahawks made another questionable decision (following the selection of DE Bruce Irvin in the first round), tabbing Wilson in the third frame. Wilson is destined to sit behind newly signed Matt Flynn and will struggle to see the field at any point over the next three years.”

Not according to Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll, who brimmed with enthusiasm over Wilson after the team completed its three-day camp for rookies Sunday. Asked where Wilson fits into Seattle’s quarterbacking picture, Carroll said:

“Here’’s what I’m going to say about it: He’s going to be in the competition. He showed us enough. He’’s in the competition. That is going to tax us, as we know. It was already going to be taxing with two (Flynn and incumbent Tarvaris Jackson).

“But he’’s (Wilson) showed us enough that we need to see where he fits in with these guys. It won’’t be because he doesn’’t understand or that he can’’t learn it, or any of that. And it isn’’t going to be because he can’’t throw a football – because he can. He’s got a terrific arm.

“So we’’ll just have to see how he fits as the time goes on. It’’s going to take us a long time to do this. It’’s going to be frustrating for you guys (reporters). You’’re going to keep asking and wanting to know, and I’’m just going to be more patient than you can imagine as we go through this process and we’’ll just figure it out when we do.””

Asked if he thought Wilson would become a competitor for the starting job in the days after the Seahawks drafted him, Carroll said, ““I had hoped that. I had hoped that and we confirmed it in these three days. He left really no question that he needs to be involved in the competition of this thing.””

According to NFL scouts, Wilson is a “special person” whose leadership skills and athletic abilities ignited a Wisconsin offense that averaged 44.1 points per game last season. Still, it would be a remarkable, if not historic, development if Wilson overcomes his height disadvantage and becomes a starter, much less a star, in the NFL.

Since 1952, only two quarterbacks as short, or shorter, than Wilson have been successful in the NFL, Eddie LeBaron (Washington, Dallas, 1952-63), who was 5-foot-7; and Doug Flutie (Chicago, New England, Buffalo, San Diego, 1986-2005, with nine years in the Canadian Football league) stood 5-foot-9 3/4. At the NFL draft combine, Wilson measured 5-foot-10 5/8.

So the height (or lack of) issue is real. So is this: during the past eight years, 23 quarterbacks have been first-round picks and 15 are currently starters. Over the same span, 82 quarterbacks have been selected in the second round or lower.

Of those, only seven of have become NFL starters. That doesn’t work in Wilson’s favor, either. Carroll, apparently, will have no part of those arguments.

“He did an excellent job of demonstrating that he prepared for this,” Carroll said of Wilson’s showing.

The question is whether Carroll’s enthusiasm over Wilson amounts to another burst of hyperbole, or whether Carroll and the Seahawks are really on to something.

No less an authority than Rob Rang, a talent evaluator at nfldraftscout.com, posted this on his Twitter account: “I attended the Seahawks’ rookie mini camp (Saturday). Excitement about Russell Wilson isn’t just hyperbole from Carroll. Scouts buzzing too.”

Having said that, Rang predicted that Wilson will “star” in the preseason, but after that the quarterback job is Flynn’s to lose.

How say you?


YourThoughts

  • RadioGuy

    Boy, you could so easily make a good argument for any of those poll questions.  Pete Carroll has a little Sparky Anderson in him in that he sometimes picks out a rookie he thinks can be a world-beater even if nobody else does.  Seems like every year Sparky managed in Detroit there was some player who Sparky looked like a future star…that’s the optimism talking.

    The thing is, Pete also is big on players competing for their jobs and it’s become pretty obvious he’ll give unheralded players a decent shot.  How many people projected that Michael Robinson, Brandon Browner or Kam Chancellor would even be starters, let alone Pro Bowlers?  If you can play, Pete’ll give you a chance to prove it.

    Finally, Russell Wilson may bring the best personal makeup for a QB to camp of all 4 who’ll be there, although I’ve also been very impressed by what Flynn has shown in the past in terms of toughness, patience and ability to get it done when given the snaps.  Wilson has off-the-charts leadership skills, and so much of being a successful NFL QB is getting your teammates to believe in you.  Bobby Layne was only reasonably talented back in the day, but you knew the Lions were HIS team because he was their undeniable leader.

    Maybe, like Rang says, Wilson will be three years away from playing a regular season game, but if that’s the case it won’t be because he’s 5’11″.  Carroll doesn’t care as much about a guy being prototypical in size if he can do the job.  I think Flynn’s pencilled in as projected starter at this point, but no doors are being closed.

  • RadioGuy

    Boy, you could so easily make a good argument for any of those poll questions.  Pete Carroll has a little Sparky Anderson in him in that he sometimes picks out a rookie he thinks can be a world-beater even if nobody else does.  Seems like every year Sparky managed in Detroit there was some player who Sparky looked like a future star…that’s the optimism talking.

    The thing is, Pete also is big on players competing for their jobs and it’s become pretty obvious he’ll give unheralded players a decent shot.  How many people projected that Michael Robinson, Brandon Browner or Kam Chancellor would even be starters, let alone Pro Bowlers?  If you can play, Pete’ll give you a chance to prove it.

    Russell Wilson may bring the best personal makeup for a QB in camp among all 4 who’ll be there (although I’ve also been very impressed by what Flynn has shown in the past in terms of toughness, patience and ability).  Wilson has off-the-charts leadership skills, and so much of being a successful NFL QB is getting your teammates to believe in you.  Dave Krieg wasn’t the biggest or most talented Seahawks QB ever, but his teammates loved him.

    Maybe, like Rang says, Wilson will be three years away from playing a regular season game, but if that’s the case it won’t be because he’s 5’11″.  Carroll doesn’t care as much about a guy being prototypical in size if he can do the job.  I think Flynn’s pencilled in as projected starter at this point, but no doors are being closed. This’ll be fun to watch.

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  • CamanoIslandJQ

    “”Rang predicted that Wilson will “star” in the preseason, but after that the quarterback job is Flynn’s to lose.”"

    So, he’s saying Wilson stars & wins the competition but Flynn will get the job?  The end result of that outcome is DO NO COMPETE, you won’t win the job anyway.

    PC would lose the respect and trust of all of the players if he promoted a lesser QB over the competition winner.  Ain’t gonna happen!

  • CamanoIslandJQ

    “”Rang predicted that Wilson will “star” in the preseason, but after that the quarterback job is Flynn’s to lose.”"

    So, he’s saying Wilson stars & wins the competition but Flynn will get the job?  The end result of that outcome is DO NO COMPETE, you won’t win the job anyway.

    PC would lose the respect and trust of all of the players if he promoted a lesser QB over the competition winner.  Ain’t gonna happen!

  • Michael Kaiser

    Ya, all the kids are celebrating here on my home hill of Queen Anne.  I thought about saying, “What are you getting so excited about?  A fairly mediocre Husky team beating a nobody?”  But I tried to remember back to those days.  Anything was an excuse to celebrate.  And those were the in-between years of Husky dominance (87-90).  These next three (now to five games at least) will say how far the Huskies have come in the past twenty years, or ten years if you want to date it from our last period of semi-dominance under Neuheisel.   I wonder if I should book a flight to the Pac-12 championship game?

    • Artthiel

      Well, Michael, that’s why you’re the dad and the kids are the kids. You know better, and you also miss being that joyful.

      • Michael Kaiser

        At time I do miss it, and at times I would not want to be that age again.  Funny, my forties are turning out to be my best decade so far.  But, yes, I guess, in a perfect world, I would not mind going through that period again.  Oh, and by the way, when I said kids, I meant all the younger people who live in the same shared housing-type cluster of buildings I do on Queen Anne.  Not my own.

  • Guest

    Art, I disagree. The time to punish a child is right after he commits the transgression, not later. And football players today will take more seriously what is said in front of TV cameras than what is said in the privacy of the locker room.

    Plus Sark is ending a message to future recruits.

  • Artthiel

     I don’t think Sark needs to be clobbered for his outburst, because he had a good point to make. But like his players, he has to think a moment before he acts. Why have that as the national TV highlight of the game?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=10706550 Thai-Duong Nguyen

    Proves to the nation (including future recruits) that he is all about improvement, and not coasting to victory.  If you’re a serious football player, you want a coach that will make you work hard no matter what the score is.