Aug 11, 2012; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) passes the ball during the 2nd half against the Tennessee Titans at CenturyLink Field. Seattle defeated Tennessee 27-17. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-US PRESSWIRE

Where do Franchise Quarterbacks Come From? Russell Wilson and a Brief History of 3rd Round Quarterbacks

 

Today’s announcement that Russell Wilson will start at QB against the Chiefs in the Seahawks’ third pre-season game has caused quite a stir among Seahawks fans. Most seem to endorse this move as Wilson has outplayed Matt Flynn in the first two weeks of the preseason. Personally, I would prefer that Pete Carroll roll Flynn out there because I still feel that he gives the Seahawks the best chance to win during the regular season for which week 3 of the preseason traditionally serves as a dress rehearsal. I understand the excitement regarding Wilson and his play, but I’m going to have to put on my proverbial “Debbie Downer” (where did that expression come from?) hat and advise that we temper our expectations about Wilson as a starting quarterback, especially this early in his career. There are a couple of factors that have the odds stacked against Wilson. One that has been talked about endlessly is his height. Suffice it to say there have not been many successful NFL quarterbacks at Wilson’s height in the past. The second issue is that he is a rookie. Quarterbacking at the NFL level is an immensely difficult proposition and most quarterbacks coming out of college, even those with promise, simply aren’t ready to do it at a high level.  A third factor, and the one I will focus on in this article, is that Wilson was a 3rd round pick. I understand that Wilson is a unique player but history doesn’t lie and the precedent for quarterbacks drafted in the 3rd round having success in the last 10-15 years is almost non-existent. I don’t want to wildly speculate as to why there have been so few starting-caliber quarterbacks coming out of that round; except the obvious reason that quarterbacks are  valuable enough that those who even briefly flash the ability to start are drafted very early, usually in the first round. Instead I will simply present you with the raw information and allow you to make your own judgments. Below I have compiled the basic career statistics of every quarterback drafted in the 3rd round of the NFL draft between 1995-2010.

Year

Quarterback

Games Started

Passing Yards

Completion Percentage

Touchdowns

Interceptions

QB Rating

2010

Colt McCoy

21

4309

58.4

20

20

74.5

2008

Kevin O’Connell

0

23

66.7

0

0

73.6

2007

Trent Edwards

33

6019

60.5

26

30

75.4

2006

Charlie Whitehurst

4

805

54.2

3

4

64.6

2006

Brodie Coyle

10

1669

56.7

8

9

67.8

2005

Charlie Frye

23

4151

62.0

17

29

69.8

2005

Andrew Walter

9

1919

52.3

3

16

52.6

2005

David Greene

0

0

N/A

0

0

N/A

2004

Matt Schaub

66

17936

64.3

98

58

92.2

2003

Dave Ragone

2

135

50.0

0

1

47.4

2003

Chris Simms

16

3117

58.1

12

18

69.1

2002

Josh McCown

33

6998

58.0

37

44

72.1

2000

Giovanni Carmazzi

0

0

N/A

0

0

N/A

2000

Chris Redman

12

3179

57.2

21

14

76.8

1999

Brock Huard

4

689

56.1

4

2

80.3

1998

Jonathan Quinn

6

1161

52.5

4

7

60.4

1998

Brian Griese

83

19440

62.7

119

99

82.7

1996

Bobby Hoying

13

2544

53.5

11

15

64.3

1995

Stoney Case,

6

1826

51.3

4

15

53.3

1995

Eric Zeier

12

3520

56.1

16

15

74.4

You may notice there are very few quality quarterbacks on this list. Only Matt Schaub could reasonably be considered a franchise passer, and Brian Griese is the only other quarterback here to be a starter for any length of time. Five of the twenty quarterbacks listed managed to throw more touchdowns than interceptions and only three had a career passer rating over 80. It’s a pretty pathetic list in general. I thought the best way to really comprehend the mediocrity (mediocrity is pretty generous to be frank) here was to create the career stat line for the average 3rd round quarterback. If we pretend that this quarterback had really sadistic parents who named him “Average 3rd Round Quarterback 1995-2010” then his career line would look something like this:

Player

Games Started

Passing Yards

Completion Percentage

Touchdowns

Interceptions

Passer Rating

Average 3rd Round Quarterback 1995-2010

17.7

3972

57.3

20.2

19.8

69.5

 

 

This hypothetical career line looks like a single season line for a quarterback who would never get a chance to start again.  I should take a moment here to say that I like Russell Wilson. I think he is talented, quite a bit more so than “Average 3rd Round Quarterback 1995-2010”. A little bit shorter though, I suspect. What I am trying to say is that if Russell Wilson is going to be anywhere near as good as people are starting to expect him to be, he is going to have to be way, way, way better than average for where he was drafted. These things do happen; they just don’t happen that often. I would absolutely love for Wilson to be that anomaly. I want Russell Wilson to be Matt Schaub-esque as badly as anyone out there; I just don’t think we can count on this being the case. Despite some impressive pre-season performances it is as likely, if not more so, that we have the next Chris Redman on our hands than the next Schaub. I know that’s hard for Seahawks fans to hear because the simple truth is that nobody, and I mean nobody, likes Chris Redman.

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  • Nick

    While
    all this is great, everyone seems to forget that with this new CBA and the
    limits it places on the # of practices a team can have and the # of practices
    w/ pads each team can have it is going to make teams either put more emphasis
    on the preseason games to get their team ready for the regular season, or they
    will end up using the first part of the regular season to get the offense into
    rhythm.

    I
    understand from reading yours and Hawkblogger’s posts and listening to Hugh
    Millen on KJR that you guys are just livid with this decision. But you have to
    admit that this new CBA is changing things. The way the NFL used to do it is
    not going to work anymore. Mike Sando compiled some statistics about the # of
    snaps the QB’s in the NFC West have gotten in the first two preseason games.
    Sam Bradford is at 35, Smith & Skelton each have 33 snaps, and Kolb has 32.
    Guess what Matt Flynn has…….59, Russell Wilson?………69. They have
    almost DOUBLE the # of snaps than the other NFC West teams have. You talk about
    getting the reps for the starter, Carroll has done that.

    I
    saw a tweet from Hawkblogger to Scott Enyart and he said “there’s a
    difference in the quality of the snaps” Really? Are defenses not playing
    vanilla base coverage’s, and blitz packages in the preseason? Yes they are, so
    how much quality is there in playing those other teams #1′s? Do we not have a
    top ten defense that they have to go up against EVERY day in practice? Our
    defense will get our QB’s ready better than most defenses in the league.

    I
    have said this time and time again, I LOVE Matt Flynn’s command of this
    offense, he knows the routes the WR’s are supposed to be in, he throws with
    anticipation, he throws on time, to the spot only the receiver can catch the
    ball (most of the time anyways), and above all else, he’s ACCURATE. Even
    with all of that said, I am IN LOVE with Russell Wilson’s game, his demeanor,
    his candor, his respect and understanding of the game.

    I
    don’t know how many times I’ve heard Hugh Millen on the radio talking about how
    this kid’s only a rookie and needs time to mature. Why is it that
    everyone ASSUMES all rookies are created equal? Why is it so hard for the so
    called “expert evaluators” to wrap their head around the fact that
    not all rookies turn out like Ryan Leaf? That there are some that are wiser
    beyond their years, that have the innate ability to grasp concepts and
    understand complicated things easier than most? Hugh Millen and many others
    need to understand that this kid went through MLB’s minor league farm system,
    returned to CFB, picked up an offensive playbook in 21 days, and then went out
    and set NCAA records for passing efficiency in one year. This kid is matured,
    more than most people want to give him credit for. Is he able to read NFL
    caliber defenses and make quick decisions? I don’t know, he’s done it so far
    against “lesser” competition, in fact he’s EXCELLED at it. Now what
    is Hugh Millen, hawkblogger and yourself going to say if he blows the top off
    on Friday?

    You’ll
    ask me what am I going to say if he totally bombs right? My response will be
    this. If Wilson lays an egg out there on Friday, I’ll have to eat crow
    and say I was wrong about him being ready. I will still argue that it was
    necessary to put Wilson out there with our “#1′s” and up against their
    #1′s, to see if he is capable, and I still believe that his ceiling is a lot
    higher than Matt Flynn’s.

    Everyone
    wants to talk about the # of snaps the starter gets, well Mike Sando proved
    they have already done that. You want quality snaps, they do that every day in
    practice against arguably one of the top 3 defenses in the league. Hugh Millen
    is always yelling about how the starter needs the reps with the other offensive
    players, how are they going to do that in a game setting with Rice, Baldwin,
    and Miller out, with Winslow and Lynch having limited playing time? Those
    players who we are all hoping will play week 1 of the regular season are not in
    there for them to get into a rhythm with, so how is that supposed to
    happen?

  • http://www.facebook.com/andy.lundman Andy Lundman

    As soon as this season is over, nobody wil be talking about his height accept for how much it doesn’t matter. The OLine at Wisconsin was bigger than all but 4 NFL teams last season and he had fewer balls batted down than either Andrew Luck and RG3. The conversation will end…and frankly, I can’t wait.
    The talk that he’s a rookie will also be discarded because he doesn’t act or play like a rookie. He’s mature beyond his years in life, game preperation, performance, and character. Nobody talks about Andrew Luck being good accept that he’s a rookie. I know he was the first pick overall. I got that. But if Wilson was 6′ 2″ he would’ve been in the mix with Luck and RG3 in the draft.
    The future begins Friday and though I don’t like Carroll, everyone will be talking about what a genius he is.

  • [email protected]

    So hows that crow taste?

  • http://www.facebook.com/acshon.jackson Acshon Jackson

    During the slow months of NFL news, I like to go back and read the pre-season prognostications of the prior season. Not surprisingly, most missed the mark by a wide margin. I found that the pre-season prognostications about Russell Wilson’s potential performance was mostly that he will fail or struggle if he were Seattle’s starting QB. Well, we all know how that went. What I find hard to believe though, was other than height, what deficiency did Wilson possess, that merit those predictions? None. Of all the below average (QB) height QB’s prior to Wilson, none had a resume like his. I am not talking about wins and loses wise. I’m talking about performance in 2 different pro-style offense. He was off the charts good. Not even Drew Breese had this type of resume.

    I think that whenever a dominant media outlet develops and promulgates a narrative about a player, the rest of the media and media consumers buy into it too easily, without proper analysis. So like the poster below so aptly asks, “how does that crow taste”?