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.
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:
Average 3rd Round Quarterback 1995-2010
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.