2017 NFL Draft

Finding the Fits: Whether starter or third string, Seahawks giddy about QB Wilson

Finding the Fits: Whether starter or third string, Seahawks giddy about QB Wilson

By Rob Rang | The Sports Xchange/CBSSports.com
Over the next several weeks, NFLDraftScout.com will be reviewing some of the more intriguing picks made during the 2012 NFL Draft through a series called "Finding the Fits." The goal of the series is to identify one relatively unheralded player per team who appears to be a good schematic fit and therefore more likely to be a surprise contributor early in his pro career. As the original owners of the No. 12 overall pick of the 2012 NFL Draft, the Seattle Seahawks are next up on the list.

The Seahawks entered the 2012 draft with six picks. They traded down prior to each of their first two selections, ultimately winding up with 10 picks while still addressing their two primary areas of need -- improving their pass rush and finding a suitable replacement at middle linebacker for free agent defection David Hawthorne.

Following a pattern established a year ago when the Seahawks surprised many with the selection of Alabama offensive tackle James Carpenter in the first round, head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider once again stunned the masses with the selection of West Virginia pass rusher Bruce Irvin at No. 15 overall.

Like with Carpenter, the pick of Irvin was panned by many. Upon closer inspection, the pick makes sense in many ways.

I had graded the 6-3, 245 pound Irvin as the No. 48 prospect in the draft so I certainly cannot claim that I believe the Seahawks got great value in picking him 15th. However, sources from multiple teams have indicated to me that the New York Jets, Baltimore Ravens, and San Francisco 49ers were all very high on Irvin and likely would have selected him had he been available to them. The Jets owned the 16th overall pick and selected another pass rusher in former North Carolina Tar Heel Quinton Coples there.

Furthermore, considering the need for another outside pass rusher to supplement Chris Clemons, a 6-3, 254 pound "LEO" defensive end who was the only Seahawk to register more than four sacks a year ago, the pick starts to make a little more sense. When one recognizes that Clemons, an eight-year veteran, is also entering the final year of his contract and likely will be looking for a big pay day after posting 11 sacks each of the past two seasons, Seattle's selection is downright logical.

As purely a pass rush specialist at this point, Irvin isn't likely to start or rack up impressive tackle numbers. But if he winds up challenging Clemons for the team lead in sacks as a rookie, few will remember what a "reach" Irvin was at No. 15 overall.

In much this same fashion, the Seahawks' selection of quarterback Russell Wilson at No. 75 was criticized by many. It won't be by me.

At 5-11, 204 pounds Wilson obviously lacks the size teams are hoping for at the quarterback position. Frankly, no quarterback in the modern history of the league has enjoyed sustained success at Wilson's size. I'm not sure that Wilson can do it, either. The reality is at his size, Wilson will have significantly greater trouble finding open passing lanes and simply locating defenders than taller quarterbacks would.

If one is to gamble on a quarterback with such limited height, that passer must be off the charts in virtually every other category. And that's the thing -- Wilson is.

Wilson has the arm strength, accuracy, anticipation, mobility, intelligence and leadership skills that normally would warrant a top 10 pick, which is why I characterized him as a "Diamond in the Rough" despite the fact that he played at two big time programs. He was a dominant player immediately while playing at North Carolina State, becoming the first quarterback in ACC history to ever earn first team all-conference honors as a freshman. For the year, Wilson threw 17 touchdowns and just one interception. Every head coach in the NFL preaches taking care of the football. I can assure you, having attended several of Pete Carroll's press conferences over the years, that no coach values this more than he does.

Wilson showed the ability to change offenses, immediately leading Wisconsin to the Rose Bowl after transferring from NC State with one year of eligibility remaining. In his only year in Wisconsin's pro-style offense, it was Wilson -- not Andrew Luck (Stanford), Robert Griffin III (Baylor) or system-QBs like Case Keenum (Houston) or Kellen Moore (Boise State) who led the country in pass efficiency. Wilson finished the year with a 191.78 QB rating, largely due to the fact that he completed 72.82% of his passes and tossed 33 touchdowns compared to just four interceptions.

I attended the Seahawks' rookie mini-camp last weekend. Wilson was every bit the poised, accurate passer I expected. Following the conclusion of the mini-camp, Carroll acknowledged Wilson's impressive performance by announcing that the rookie would be competing with newly signed free agent addition Matt Flynn and incumbent starter Tarvaris Jackson to lead the Seahawks next season. The announcement may have been a surprise to the national media but it wasn't to the scouts or spectators who watched Wilson throughout the weekend.

It might be too much to expect Wilson to wrestle away the starting job immediately. Don't be surprised at all though when he plays very well in the preseason.

The rest of the Seahawks' picks:

1st Round - No. 15 overall - Bruce Irvin, OLB/DE, West Virginia
2nd Round - No. 47 overall - Bobby Wagner, LB, Utah State
3rd Round - No. 75 overall - Russell Wilson, QB, Wisconsin
4th Round - No. 106 overall - Robert Turbin, RB, Utah State
4th Round - No. 114 overall - Jaye Howard, DT, Florida
5th Round - No. 154 overall - Korey Toomer, OLB, Idaho
6th Round - No. 172 overall - Jeremy Lane, CB, Northwestern State
6th Round - No. 181 overall - Winston Guy, SS, Kentucky
7th Round - No. 225 overall - J.R. Sweezy, DT/OG, North Carolina State
7th Round - No. 232 overall - Greg Scruggs, DL, Louisville

Read more about all of the Seahawks' picks here.
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