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Head over Heels

 Short [shawrt]: adjective
1. Having little height; not tall: a short man

“The kid would be a top ten pick if he was 6’3″.” Those are the words that echoed from the mouths of more than one General Manager as Wiconsin’s Russell Wilson sat at home through the first 74 picks of the 2012 NFL Draft. After all, he measured in at 5’10 5/8″ at the NFL combine and that was enough to remove him completely off several team’s draft boards as he was perceived as simply being too short to play the quarterback position at the NFL level.

It’s looking like they all made a huge mistake.

Wilson has been the story of the preseason as he’s gone from a long-term project at quarterback to the probable starter for the Seahawks this season. He’s shown incredible poise, accuracy and leadership ability as he’s literally forced his way up the depth chart since being taken by Seattle as the 75th pick in the draft. He capped off his amazing preseason run by completing 13-of-19 passes for 185 yards and two touchdowns and rushing twice for another 58 yards in Friday night’s preseason start against the Chiefs (add up those fantasy points and you’ll smile). So far this preseason, Wilson has completed an amazing 35-of-52 passes (67.3 percent) for 464 passing yards, five touchdowns, and just one interception. He’s also rushed ten times for another 150 yards (just 15 yards per carry) and yet another score.

While much of his totals have come against second team defenses, there’s simply no denying there’s a special quality to him. After all, the Seahawks have scored on more than two thirds of their possessions when he’s been on the field, including six consecutive possessions against Kansas City’s first team defense on Friday night.

Still, he’s too short, right?

The quality that makes Wilson different than other quarterbacks with his athletic ability is that he’s a quarterback who can run, but not a running quarterback. By that I mean he’d much rather stay in the pocket and beat you with his arm than become a Tim Tebow-like weapon. Accuracy is far from a problem with him, either. As mentioned, he’s completing over 67% of his passes and that’s actually a step down from where he was collegiately since he completed a gaudy 72.8% of his passes last year at Wisconsin while throwing for 3,175 yards and 33 touchdowns, with just four (yes, four) interceptions.

Yeah, but that height?

For those who haven’t followed Wilson’s journey since the draft, it was obvious from the start that Seattle loved him. In fact, GM John Schneider was quoted as saying the team simply “had to have him,” and that he was one of the top four players he scouted. In addition, he said Wilson was “the closest player I’ve scouted to Drew Brees and Jeff Garcia in terms of sliding, finding lanes and creating for himself. From an accuracy and anticipation standpoint, he is the closest to Brees.” That’s high praise indeed and Coach Pete Carroll has been thriled with Wilson’s accuracy and timing in camp. You can only imagine how excited Seattle has been with his performance in actual games.

His teammates are noticing, too. After Friday night’s game Golden Tate was quoted as saying,  “It’s just something that he stands for and how he handles himself. The things that leave his mouth. You get a feeling that he’s just very, very special. You don’t know what it is, but you get that feeling. You get excited to see him get on the field, because you never know if he’s going to throw a perfect touchdown pass or juke a safety to extend the drive. It’s hard to put into words, but it’s just good to have a guy who seems comfortable sitting back there. He’s just a very, very special player, and I’m excited to see him grow.”

The kid is under six feet, though?

What many dynasty owners may not realize is that Wilson actually played behind an offensive line at Wisconsin that was bigger than that of their fellow Wisconsin natives known as the Green Bay Packers. In fact, by many accounts the offensive line for the Badgers would have ranked in the top ten of the NFL in terms of size last season. Playing behind that line, Wilson had all of TWO passes batted down at the line of scrimmage last year. Finding lanes? Go ahead and check the box, please.

While Wilson has yet to be named the starter for Seattle, he’s shown enough in camp and in the preseason to get dynasty owners pretty excited. The Seahawks paid for Matt Flynn this offseason, but the money they gave him was incredibly reasonable – and the price they paid wasn’t Kevin Kolb-like, forcing them to play Flynn as the starter regardless of Wilson’s performance thus far. One thing Pete Carroll isn’t afraid of doing is playing the players he feels give him the best chance to win. Flynn has completed 17-of-26 for 102 yards, no touchdowns and one interception so far this preseason. While Terrell Owens did drop a would-be 43 yard touchdown from Flynn, those numbers aren’t all that impressive and he certainly doesn’t have the athletic ability of Wilson to make plays when they break down.

Yeah, but…

The argument about Wilson’s height can rage all day and night if you let it. Fact is, other quarterbacks like the aforementioned Drew Brees have been pretty good, despite not fitting into the pretty little height box a quarterback is supposed to fit in.

Russell Wilson is screaming up rookie draft boards and it seems that it’s just a matter of time before he’s in the middle of the Seahawks huddle. He’s shown as much upside as virtually any rookie thus far and it’s been an exciting climb to watch. I have him ranked all the way up to the very late first and early second round for rookie drafts (much higher than my counterparts) and that’s high praise for a player who isn’t even guaranteed (yet) of starting this year. Even if Flynn starts, I’m squarely on the bandwagon. With a rookie crop this volatile and with picks being such a crap shoot, I’d happily take my chances with him over players like Stephen Hill, Isaiah PeadRueben Randle and even Ryan Tannehill based on his upside alone.

Wilson has simply shown the heart, character, work ethic, skill and athletic ability to be an incredibly successful NFL and fantasy quarterback. His rushing yards alone could be a huge weapon in dynasty leagues. While it’s too early to start anointing him as the next Michael Vick or even a clone of an early version of Vince Young, it’s not going to surprise many if he’s simply the first Russell Wilson when all this is said and done. He’s answered the bell when given any challenge and it certainly doesn’t look like the NFL stage is too big for him.

It’s just too bad he’s so dang short.

UPDATE: Unsurprisingly, Wilson has officially been named the week one starter for Seattle. It’s tough news for Matt Flynn and his dynasty owners as Wilson will undoubtedly be given every chance to succeed. Don’t look for Flynn to be moved, either – the Seahawks are finalizing a trade to send Tarvaris Jackson to Buffalo.

Ken Kelly
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Mike Rapolas Jr.
10 years ago

What’s becoming scary about this situation is how quickly he will most likely rise up this weekend’s rookie draft boards. In some of the early drafts, I scooped him up in the late 3rd/early 4th where I was able to, especially since I had been firmly on the Matt Flynn bandwagon dating back to 2010.

Ken, based on your comments, it looks like there could be a possibility that I may have to grab him today in either the late 1st/early 2nd in my contract/auction dynasty where I picked up Flynn last offseason on the cheap (I would have to trade down from 1.04, and 3.04, which I plan on doing to get 1.09/1.10/3.01). And honestly, I’m not afraid to do so, especially with Rivers on the last year of his contract and with only Bradford and Flynn on my roster. I just wonder if this is going to become a general trend over this last week of rookie drafting…

Damn, I just wish he waited a few more days to have this breakout game…

BadgerYou
Reply to  Mike Rapolas Jr.
10 years ago

I took him in the 3rd round of our league this year. (25th overall). Granted I owned, Flynn and am a huge Badger/Wilson fan to begin with. Needless to say, some are saying I have obtained the “Steal” of our draft.

Being a fellow “short” guy, I can’t help but root for him. He really is a leader, and QB is first and foremost about Confidence and Respect, and he is falling right inline in both regards.

Ken Dogson
10 years ago

First, a question: What the heck is Berry doing in that picture?

I’m a Badger alum and watched all the games this year. Wilson does have some negatives in addition to his height. Too often against quality opposition he relied on his feet and not his arm. He forced throws downfield quite a bit too.

But you can’t deny the “leadership” aspect to his personality. UW players said the same thing after only a few days of practicing with him. Intangibles matter.

Flynn is pretty unlucky here.

ILS
Reply to  Ken Dogson
10 years ago

72% completion rate and 4 INTs – Forcing it? I think not.

Dave Lamson
10 years ago

We had our draft 2 weeks ago and I am so happy I got him with pick #39. Wilson has done nothing but outperform Flynn and prove, once again, that leadership is more important at QB than any of the measurables.

Mercenaries
10 years ago

I picked up Flynn last season off our waiver wire and held on to him in anticipation of him finding a starting spot this offseason. I was thrilled when he chose Seattle over Miami due to the surrounding talent. I was less than thrilled when I saw Seattle draft Wilson, but I figured that T-Jack had more to worry about than Flynn. Once I started hearing about how close the competition was becoming between Flynn and Wilson, and how much the Seattle organization was in love with Wilson, I shipped Flynn and Shonn Greene off for Jay Cutler. Wilson went undrafted in our rookie draft back on August 5th, but was picked up by another team as an UDFA shortly after. That team dropped him shortly after and I scooped him up once I saw how Wilson performed in the first preseason game. Our league assigns contract years to players, and I plan on locking up Wilson for at least the next 8-10 years. I love watching his poise in the pocket and his accuracy is incredible. Sure he gets comparisons to Drew Brees because of his height, but I would say that his arm strength and accuracy are comparable to Brees as well. Throw in his scrambling ability, and he might just be a future top-10 QB if not top-5.

Chris Russell
10 years ago

You’ve got to think out in AZ they are thinking, “why can’t we have THAT kind of QB decision to make???”

Philip Goodman
10 years ago

Just made a trade for Wilson where I gave up Carson Palmer and Prince Amukamara. Tony Romo is my starter and I also have Brandon Weeden but I think Wilson will easily outplay Weeden. Needless to say I’m excited to have him on my team and don’t feel I gave up too much for him.

RossOfTheYear
10 years ago

I just started my first dynasty league and Wilson went undrafted. I would love to pick him up, provided no one else does, but we only have 16 man rosters. Is it worth dropping my other developemental qb, Jake Locker, to get Wilson?

robbyrobdu
Reply to  RossOfTheYear
10 years ago

1 starting QB? How many teams? These matter….

Josh Gans
Reply to  RossOfTheYear
10 years ago

Very shallow league, but I would still add Wilson over Locker…as long as you arent depending on him week after week this season. Locker has better targets..alas, his accuracy issues means he probably wont be able to find them! I just like Wilson’s potential more and if you dont snag him, likely someone else will!

Mike Rapolas Jr.
10 years ago

Well, ended up doing the deal, just a slight variation. Moved 1.04 and Alex Green (2 yrs) for 1.09/1.10. Ended up with Kendall Wright at 1.09 and then pulled the shocker by grabbing Wilson at 1.10. Drew some interesting commentary from the room, but when it was all said and done, the consensus was liking the move even if it was extremely ballsy. Two weeks ago I would have been able to wait until 3.04, but to get a guy you want, sometimes you have to make that reach.

Have to be happy, though, as I was able to land Gordon with that 3.04 to sign for a buck for 4 years. It’s vital to build that WR depth since I’ll lose Nicks and Harvin next season and most likely won’t have enough cap to sign them…

Team Canada
10 years ago

I always seem to luck out on these pre-season guys, guess I’m too skeptical and want to see another week from these guys b4 I pick them up, I blame my redraft past.

Anyways in my league right after the rookie draft, I immediatley scooped him up and put him on my TS, I’m so excited that I’m promoting him from my TS! Glad I wasn’t skeptical about Wilson

Jeff Wagner
10 years ago

All things considered, should Tannehill still be the third QB off the board in a rookie draft?

Josh Gans
Reply to  Ken Kelly
10 years ago

Poll’s early returns say you aren’t in the minority Ken!

Jeff Wagner
Reply to  Josh Gans
10 years ago

Not sure I’m buying in at this point, but, for draft planning purposes, perception may be at least as important as reality.

StevieMo
10 years ago

As to the reader comments on this section, my take is it is waaaay too early to coronate a guy who has yet to play one NFL game. He’s promising, yes, but not a slamdunk by any means.

BadgerYou
10 years ago

I’m having a grand ole time defending Wilson on the forums from the likes of Jake Locker lovers. My love for Wilson might be strong enough to win out, however.

phil
10 years ago

i picked up wilson off waivers in our league after the second game…i got up at 3 to see if i got him!!!! i have brady and gabbert(idrafted blackmon) as qbs on my tm so i have the time to see if he developes..plus hes only 10 dollars in our salary cap league and i can have him for that this yr and next yr…needless to say im giddy about his potential an even though i thought i had a pretty good rookie draft, i think hes my favorite rookie i have on my roster!

Dave
10 years ago

I have Wilson as my back up to Cam Newton. I have to cut either Mikel Leshoure or Rod Streater. Should I trust Wilson And make a cut or try and trade him and Leshoure for Joe Flaco and keep Streater

andrew
Reply to  Dave
10 years ago

you drop them and keep Wilson both are going to be nasty both I have on my dynasty lol

Greg
10 years ago

Took him with the #6 pick in our rookie draft last weekend. I just had to have him, and I couldn’t take a chance that he’d still be there in the second round. If you think that’s nuts, we’ll see what you think in December.

Jason Wise
10 years ago

I have the following qb’s in a contract league….
Luck
RG3
Bradford
R. Wilson
Foles

Been offered a 1st and 3rd Rd. draft pick in next years draft…for Wilson…do I trade him?

Zach Levitt
Reply to  Jason Wise
10 years ago

Unless this is a 2 QB league than yes. This could potentially be the height of Wilson’s value. With Luck and RB3 you are set. Foles is a great developmental guy.

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