NFL Nation: Art Schlichter

Little precedent for Seahawks' Wilson

August, 27, 2012
8/27/12
10:40
AM ET
Five rookies are scheduled to start at quarterback in Week 1 this season.

The NFL has previously had no more than two rookie starters at QB on opening day since the 1970 merger, ESPN Stats & Information notes.

Seattle's Russell Wilson isn't quite the same as the other rookies scheduled to start in 2012. Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Tannehill and Brandon Weeden were drafted in the first two rounds. Wilson lasted until the third, presumably because teams were skeptical about his relative lack of height.

Wilson will become only the sixth rookie since the merger to make an opening-day start at quarterback after entering the NFL as a draft choice taken in the third round or later. That note comes from Elias Sports Bureau. Wilson stands out from that list as well in that he won the job outright, unlike most of the others.

A quick look at Wilson and the other rookie quarterbacks since 1970 to start in Week 1 as third-round-and-later picks:
  • 2012 Seahawks: The team appeared most likely to start free-agent addition Matt Flynn, but Wilson kept exceeding expectations. Their competition was close most of the way, particularly when viewed through the filter that tends to suppress expectations for rookie quarterbacks. The way Wilson performed in the preseason, especially against Kansas City, validated what the Seahawks were seeing behind the scenes. At that point, Wilson won the job decisively.
  • 2005 Chicago Bears: Fourth-rounder Kyle Orton became the starter by default after Rex Grossman suffered a broken ankle and backup Chad Hutchinson failed to impress. The Bears, with a defense that allowed an NFL-low 12.6 points per game, went 10-5 in games Orton started. Thomas Jones carried 314 times for 1,335 yards. Orton tossed nine scoring passes with 13 interceptions, completing 51.6 percent of his passes. The Bears attempted the third-fewest passes in the NFL that season.
  • 2001 Carolina Panthers: Fourth-rounder Chris Weinke became the starter after Jeff Lewis struggled during the preseason. This would be George Seifert's final season as an NFL head coach. Matt Lytle and Dameyune Craig were the other quarterbacks on the roster. Carolina ranked fourth in pass attempts that season. Weinke had 11 touchdowns and 19 interceptions while going 1-14 as the starter. Jim Harbaugh was on the roster that season, but did not play.
  • 1982 Baltimore Colts: First-round pick Art Schlichter's out-of-control gambling had to play a role in another rookie, Mike Pagel, emerging as the starter that year. The Colts went 0-8-1 during that strike-shortened season, all with Pagel as the starter. Pagel went 7-8 as a starter the following season.
  • 1977 Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Eighth-round choice Randy Hedberg opened the expansion Bucs' second season as the starter. Gary Huff and Jeb Blount also started that season. Tampa Bay went 2-12, then used the 17th pick of the 1978 draft for Doug Williams.
  • 1973 Buffalo Bills: Joe Ferguson started as a rookie and held the job for 12 consecutive seasons. He won four of his first six starts and went 26-16 as a starter over his first three seasons. Ferguson beat out incumbent Dennis Shaw for the job. The Bills leaned heavily on a ground game featuring O.J. Simpson and future Hall of Fame guard Joe DeLamielleure.

The chart breaks out Wilson and the five others for a quick look at their combined 20-36-1 record as rookie starters

The season-long suspension of New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma pretty much is unprecedented in the NFL.

There have been plenty of one-year suspensions (and some longer) for substance-abuse violations. But Vilma’s suspension ranks as one of the longest in history.

With help from the Associated Press, by way of ESPN Stats & Information, here’s a list of the longest non-substance-abuse suspensions in NFL history:
  • Art Schlichter, Life, suspended 1 year for gambling in 1983, never reinstated
  • Merle Hapes, 8 years, suspended for conversing with known gambler in 1946, reinstated in 1954
  • Frank Filchock, 3 years, suspended for conversing with known gambler in 1947, reinstated in 1950
  • Michael Vick, 2 years, 2 games, suspended indefinitely in 2007 after pleading guilty to role in dogfighting
  • Plaxico Burress, 2 years, suspended for duration of jail term in 2009 after pleading guilty to criminal possession of a weapon
  • Donte’ Stallworth, 1 year, suspended for 1 year after pleading guilty to DUI manslaughter in 2009
  • Paul Hornung, 1 year, suspended 1 year for gambling in 1963
  • Alex Karras, 1 year, suspended 1 year for gambling in 1963
  • Adam Jones, 1 year, suspended 1 year for violating Personal Conduct Policy in 2007

Those suspensions all involved off-field actions. Here is the list of the longest NFL suspensions for on-field incidents:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Great stat from Elias Sports Bureau by way of ESPN Stats & Information.

With it looking like the Panthers will take Cam Newton with the first pick in tonight’s draft, Jimmy Clausen has a chance to join some pretty unflattering company. The Panthers used a second-round pick on Clausen last year.

Since 1970, only two teams have drafted a quarterback within the top 50 picks in back-to-back drafts. Both came in 1982 and 1983. In 1982, the Bills drafted Matt Kofler at No. 48 overall. In 1983, they followed by taking Jim Kelly at No. 14. Kelly went to the United States Football league before joining the Bills in 1986.

In 1982, the Baltimore Colts drafted Art Schlichter at No. 4. In 1983, they took John Elway at No. 1. Elway never played for the Colts and eventually was traded to Denver.

But the moral of this story is that you don’t want to be the guy taken in the year before your team turns around and uses a higher pick on a quarterback. Heck, the true moral of the story is you don’t want to be Schlichter or Kofler.

Looks like Clausen’s about to join that club.

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