QB RUSSELL WILSON – WISCONSIN – 5-11, 204
Interesting player. Spent 3 years running the offense for NC State. Played baseball in the summer (minor league prospect for the Rockies). NCSU coach asked him to focus on football for 2011. Wilson wanted to play baseball and then re-join the team. This caused a “breakup” and Wilson was able to take advantage of an NCAA rule and immediately transfer to Wisconsin to play his final season. Set the NCAA record for passing efficiency and led Wisconsin to the Rose Bowl (45-38 loss to Oregon).
Wilson has a very good college resume, but also some issues that hurt him. He is just under 5’11, which is short for a QB. He looks up to Drew Brees, literally and figuratively. Not good. Wilson is a gifted athlete. He is very natural outside the pocket and can make something out of nothing. Unfortunately he is a mediocre QB in the pocket. That may sound hard to believe based on the fact he just set the passing efficiency record, but this is a case where results and style don’t match up. Look at the Big 10 title game. Wilson was 17-24-187 with 3 TDs and no INTs. Sounds good, but watch the tape and you see his receivers bailing him out with impressive catches on plays where they were wide open. You see Wilson throwing the ball erratically for no reason. Then he’ll move outside the pocket and make a brilliant throw.
The potential is there, but he needs a lot of work to fix the pocket QB play. His great numbers from UW in 2011 have to be kept in context. In 2009 and 2010 Wilson totaled 25 INTs and only completed 58.7 % of his passes. That’s probably a more true representation of his level of QB play. At UW he could feed the ball to Montee Ball and throw play-action passes. At NC State Wilson was the offense and had to throw the ball 40 times a game. He was much more inconsistent when the pressure was on him to carry the offense.
There is a place for Wilson in the NFL. He is a smart, hard working player. He is a natural leader. He adapted quickly after going to UW so that bodes well for him having to learn complex offenses in the NFL. Wilson has good mobility and a solid arm. He throws exceptionally well on the move. He is a good downfield passer. Wilson is incredibly frustrating because of this. He can roll left, stop, throw back to the right side and hit a receiver with a bullet for a nice gain. The next play he can miss a WR on a simple dig route. Wilson does do a good job on screen passes and swing passes. They are accurate and have good touch.
Wilson can develop into a starter if he can master being a pocket passer, but I think that is unlikely because of the issues he has now and the fact he’s played 4 years in pro style attacks. Could be an excellent backup in the NFL because of his mobility and the fact he can create plays on his own. Backup QBs get limited reps with starters and don’t always have the timing to run the offense as-is. Will probably go in the middle of the draft.