It is not hard to argue that the Seattle Seahawks have found their franchise quarterback in Russell Wilson. This continues to be a great story, and if Wilson can develop even further, his selection in the third round could rank as one of the great draft steals in recent years.
Comparisons can be an interesting aspects of sports, particularly when you are talking about overall impact and value to a franchise. This is particularly true when you analyze the NFL quarterback, which is easily the most scrutinized position on the team.
In 2012, the NFL saw a special quarterback class come out of the draft. Wilson joined Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, who both received much more hype than Wilson leading up to the draft. As the year progressed, it became clear that all three quarterbacks could turn out to be very special.
At the end of the season, all three quarterbacks were in consideration for the 2012 NFL Offensive Player of the Year. Despite speculation that each quarterback could be selected for the award, RGIII eventually took home the trophy. The dynamic Washington Redskins quarterback received 29 of the 50 votes. Just as a review, here are the statistics for all three quarterbacks in their rookie seasons:
Griffin: 3,200 yards, 65.6 CMP%, 20 TD, 5 INT, 815 yards rushing
Luck: 4,374 yards, 54.1 CMP%, 23 TD, 18 INT, 255 yards rushing
Wilson: 3,118 yards, 64.1 CMP%, 26 TD, 10 INT, 489 yards rushing
When you look at these numbers, there is no clear barometer of success. Luck had the most yardage, but also the most interceptions. Wilson had the highest number of touchdowns, but the fewest yards through the air. All three quarterbacks led their teams to the playoffs.
The second season is a fascinating time to reevaluate the phenom quarterback, particularly when there is a fear of the dreaded “sophomore slump.” Through 11 weeks of the season, the numbers look like this:
Griffin: 2,714 yards, 59.7 CMP%, 14 TD, 10 INT, 345 yards rushing
Luck: 2,430 yards, 59.4 CMP%, 14 TD, 6 INT, 231 yards rushing
Wilson: 2,362 yards, 64.0 CMP%, 19 TD, 6 INT, 409 yards rushing
All three quarterbacks are on pace to exceed some of the offensive totals from the first year, but there is a more important question that can be asked. Who is the most valuable now?
Again, the statistics do not provide a clear picture, particularly when you look at the performance of the quarterback within the overall context of team performance. Barring a major meltdown, both the Indianapolis Colts and the Seahawks are heading for the playoffs while the Redskins have taken a step back in their progression as a franchise. In addition, the Redskins have had their share of drama due to the health of RGIII and possible conflicts within the organization.
Given Griffin’s injury issues and recent discussion about his leadership skills, the dynamic quarterback may very well have fallen to the bottom of this three-man depth chart. Between Wilson and Luck, it comes down to style. Luck is still more of a traditional drop-back passer, while Wilson has that capability but can also make big plays with his feet.
In the end, these types of awards are not necessarily an indication of future success, but they are an interesting study in short versus long-term performance. If the NFL had an opportunity to re-draft the quarterbacks from that class, it would be interesting to see what order these players would be selected.
Something tells me that the Seahawks would still pick Wilson if they could do it all over again.