Former Wisconsin standout Russell Wilson may not be the favorite to win the Seahawks three-way quarterback competition, but he's in the discussion. If coach Pete Carroll were to give Wilson the keys to the Seattle offense this season, Wilson would become the first quarterback drafted in the third round to start a game in his rookie year since 2010 (Colt McCoy, Browns) and only the second since 2007 (Trent Edwards, Bills).
So what kind of track record do third round QB's have in the NFL?
Here's a look at some of the best and worst quarterbacks's drafted in the third round since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970.
The gold standard for third round quarterbacks is Joe Montana. Montana was taken with the 82nd overall pick out of Notre Dame in the 1979 NFL draft. Although Montana would win four Super Bowls with the 49ers, it's worth pointing out that he only started one game in his rookie year, a game he lost. Coach Bill Walsh started veteran Steve Deberg in 1979, Montana took over as the full-time starter in 1980.
Another Hall-of-Famer that came out of the third round is former San Diego Chargers quarterback Dan Fouts. Fouts was the 64th overall pick out of Oregon in the 1973 NFL draft. Unlike Montana, Fouts started more than one game his rookie year, he started six. However, like Montana, Fouts went winless, going 0-5-1 in those six starts. Fouts didn't help the Chargers put a winning season together until 1978, his sixth season with the team.
The 1970's was a banner decade for third round picks. Besides Fouts and Montana, the decade also produced Ken Anderson, who was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals out of Augustana College (Ill.) with the 67th pick in the 1971 draft. Anderson, who was the NFL MVP in 1981, led the Bengals to a Super Bowl showdown against Montana's 49ers in Super Bowl XVI, a game the Niners won and Montana was named the MVP of.
The bad news for Wilson fans, like Fouts and Montana, Anderson also went winless in his rookie year. In four starts, Anderson went 0-4. However, Anderson did lead the Bengals to a winning record in his second season (1972) and to the playoffs in his third season (1973).
The most wins a third round quarterback has ever put together in their rookie year is nine. That mark belongs to former Colts quarterback Chris Chandler and former Bills QB Joe Ferguson. Chandler was the third on the Colts depth chart in 1988 but was starting by week 4. He was the Colts starting quarterback for the team's final 13 games and went 9-4.
Wilson's situation is probably most similar to Ferguson's, who was drafted by the Bills in 1973. Ferguson walked into situation where the team had a good defense, a great running game (O.J. Simpson); all Ferguson was asked to do was not lose games.
In his rookie year, Ferguson threw for less than 1,000 yards while throwing 10 interceptions compared to only four touchdowns. However, the Bills still managed to put together a 9-5 record, thanks in large part to Simpson's 2,003 rushing yards.
In his first three seasons, Ferguson would go 26-16 as a starter, including a playoff appearance in 1974.
Obviously, third round quarterbacks aren't always successful, for every Montana, Fouts or Ferguson, there's three Brodie Croyle's. If you don't remember Croyle's NFL career, it's because he went 0-10 in 10 career starts with the Chiefs. Other third round quarterbacks that have struggled are Billie Joe Hobert (4-13 career record as a starter) and Tom Hodson (1-11). Then there are third round QB's who never played a snap in the NFL. That list includes former 49ers pick Giovanni Carmazzi and someone Seahawks fans might remember, 2005 third round pick David Greene.
Third round quarterbacks face long odds as NFL starters, but Wilson's been overcoming long odds – like his height – his entire life. If Carroll gives Wilson the keys to the Seahawks offense, Hawks fans should buckle up and hope for a smooth ride.