Imagine, for a moment, if Russell Wilson hadn't landed in Seattle with Pete Carroll. Who knows how that might have changed the future of the NFL, and particularly, this year's Super Bowl.
Heading into the 2012 NFL draft, pundits cited Wilson's oft-quoted height (5-foot-11) as a major obstacle. He wasn't too big, wasn't exactly a running quarterback at N.C. State or Wisconsin, and many saw his success in his final year at Madison as a derivative of the Badgers' mammoth offensive line.
One longtime believer in Wilson, as noted by Sports Illustrated, was then-Bears OC Mike Tice. SI reported that Tice, whose son was a backup to Wilson at Wisconsin in 2011, lobbied hard for Chicago to draft Wilson as Jay Cutler's eventual successor.
“Mike believed in him and said he was trying to build a case for him in Chicago,” Badgers AD Barry Alvarez said of Tice. “He was saying he was trying to give him more value on our draft board, saying he could play Wildcat quarterback for you, or be a wing back.”
Of Tice, Alvarez said that he “told anybody that would listen that they'd be foolish if they [didn't] take him and take him high in the draft. I felt so strongly about him because I watched him that whole year and he did everything right.”
Some of Wilson's success has to be attributed to current Denver RB Montee Ball, who as a junior at Wisconsin, tied Barry Sanders' single-season record with 39 touchdowns. Throw a running back of Ball's caliber behind an NFL-sized offensive line, and it invariably opens up the passing lanes.
Still, who wouldn't look back now at Wilson's record-setting year at Wisconsin and see a Pro-Bowl-caliber QB?
Considering Tice's pre-draft feelings, Pete Carroll said on Monday that it's not uncommon for revisionists to look back and have a fresh take on Wilson's college days.
“It's real common for people to say, ‘Hey, we loved that guy, too,'” the Seahawks' head coach said.
But Carroll said that Seattle GM John Schneider was so confident in Wilson that he would've taken him in the second round.
“John Schneider led the charge on this thing. John had it pegged perfectly where it happened for us. He had been sweating it out in the second round,” Carroll added.
As it worked out, Wilson, who some scouts viewed as a fifth or sixth-round talent, fell to Seattle with the 75th pick. He's since won 27 of 36 NFL starts – a record for any second-year quarterback -- and will conduct Seattle's offense against Denver on Sunday.