Friday, September 7, 2012
Batting around views on Russell Wilson
By Mike Sando
Bill Polian likes what he sees from Seattle Seahawks rookie quarterback Russell Wilson.
Polian, the former NFL executive and current ESPN analyst, thinks height issues won't matter so much in a West Coast offense incorporating quarterback movement off play-action and bootlegs. Wilson, as you might have heard, stands 5-foot-10 and 5/8.
K.C. Joyner isn't so sure . He anticipates too many batted passes and a so-so rookie season.
Wilson had three passes batted while at Wisconsin last season, according to Allison Loucks of ESPN Stats & Information. The chart shows three of the other four 2012 rookie starters having suffered batted/tipped passes more frequently. Only top overall choice Andrew Luck had fewer than Wilson among these players. Ryan Tannehill had five times as many as Wilson.
Wilson did suffer from 12 batted or tipped passes on 527 attempts while at North Carolina State in 2010 but he had a stronger supporting cast last season. He didn't have to force as many throws. That could explain some of the difference.
I checked in with Joyner on Friday for some additional thoughts. Here's what he said:
"My bigger concern was his varying level of play between collegiate programs. When he was at Wisconsin last year, Wilson was on a squad that had three All-Big Ten linemen, a Heisman Trophy contender at running back, an NFL-caliber prospect at receiver (Nick Toon) and an alternate target in Jared Abbrederis, who actually was more productive than Toon.
"Compounding those positive factors was a schedule against the mediocre Big Ten secondaries. The best cornerback in that conference wouldn't have even cracked the top four cornerbacks in the Big 12.
"Now, compare that to 2010 when Wilson was at N.C. State. The Wolfpack did not have anywhere near the offensive talent the Badgers had last year and Wilson finished fifth in the conference in passer rating and sixth in YPA.
"That leads to a thought that Wilson tends to perform to the talent level around him. If that is the case in Seattle, which has solid but certainly not great talent on offense, we could see a return to the 2010 Wilson, who would not have generated the draft day buzz the 2011 Wilson generated."
Joyner pointed to Scott Tolzien, now with the San Francisco 49ers, as another example of a quarterback benefiting from his time at Wisconsin. But he also allowed for the possibility that Wilson did indeed improve dramatically at Wisconsin. We'll start seeing a fuller picture Sunday in Arizona.
"I'm not saying he's going to fail," Joyner said. "I'm of the mindset he'll struggle early. I need to see it against NFL defenses in the regular season before signing off."
Earlier: Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. thinks Wilson makes Seattle an NFC West favorite.