I wrote my first late round sleeper about a relatively unknown wide receiver Devon Wylie. I'm going to write this one about a more known, but currently slept on commodity. Quarterback Russell Wilson from Wisconsin. Wisconsin had a pretty good year and wound up going to the Rose Bowl against the Oregon Ducks. Monty Ball and Nick Toon were given a lot of the credit for that, but Russell Wilson got very little hype coming into the draft. Most mock boards and draft sites have him rated behind Luck, RG3, Foles, Osweller, Tannehill, and countless other QB's. This guy is has a 5th or 6th round grade. To that I say why? Why does a guy who has only played quarterback better than all but 2 or 3 other guys in the country have to be downgraded to being the 10th or 11th best quarterback in a draft?
The reason why, is that to his detriment he has the handicap of being 5'11 and a quarterback. For some reason this obviously means that he can be no higher than the 10th rated Quarterback. Forgive me, because I have an unnatural proclivity to Wisconsin football products, and I also like undersized players. We routinely devalue a guy because he is not the prototypical height or weight of what we think an NFL player should be. Russell Wilson is 5'11 so he has to automatically only be compared to Drew Brees or Mike Vick. The truth is, he is neither. Russell Wilson is plain and simple, a baller. He has gotten done on every level so far, and in more than one school and conference. Just to add a little extra to it, he was also a baseball standout, and right now has a contract with a major league baseball team if he chooses to accept it. I hope he doesn't and here's why.Russell came to NC State where he was a red-shirt freshman. Following his red-shirt season he put up 76 touchdowns to 19 interceptions in his freshman, sophomore, and junior years. NC State plays a pro style offense. His numbers were top 5 in the country I believe, but don't quote me on that. He completed 60% of his passes, and he had over 25 starts, which according to scouts is what you want when drafting a rookie QB. But again, he's 5'11 and no one wants a 5'11 QB.
Following his junior year, the NC State coach tells him that he can't play baseball and should commit to only football. He needs to drop baseball. Russell instead transferred to Wisconsin, where he didn't have to wait out the year to play. He throws 33 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions and leads the team to the Rosebowl. Coincidentally, the players voted him team captain, even though he just arrived there months before the season started.
So now you have a guy who has played in a pro offense and put up great numbers. He played in a running offense and put up outstanding numbers. He basically picked up a playbook, learned it, mastered it, and lead a team to damn near an NCAA title. But again, he's 5'11 so he can't play in the NFL. I included some video and tell me what you think of him. Tell me if his height means he can't see over the line well, or he can't throw, or he has no pocket presence.
This is all real, and not some scout book copied crap. Just watch the films and they'll show you. He can throw it a ton and doesn't really put a lot of effort into throwing it 50 yards or so. No wind up or anything. Just slings it. Watch at the 4:20 mark the speed the ball travels from his hand to the receiver a pass covering 50 yards, and the quick release. His pocket presence is better than anyone I've seen in the draft. He moves around in the pocket and always keeps his eyes downfield. He is constantly scanning the field, and doesn't lock on to anyone. I've seen him lock on, look off, and come back to a guy after going through the progressions twice in a matter of seconds. He moves around alot, but he doesn't have jumpy feet. He has a bunch of different throws. He throws from an overhand position which gives him more height when he passes. He uses shovel passes well. He improvises.
When he decides to run, he breaks the line, and he is decisive. He finds running lanes and blockers better than half the running backs in the draft. He doesn't make mistakes often. He's a smart quarterback. The fact that he picked up a playbook and threw 33 touchdowns with it in a new school in a matter of one college off season attests to that.
What this means to the Jets:
The Jets have limited cap space. So much so that Brick had to restructure his deal. The roster is 53 players. There is talk that when Brunell leaves the Jets may need to find a player to push Sanchez. If you have limited roster space, and limited cap space every position counts. Why waste it on a player only meant to help another player? I value versatility. Russell Wilson is versatility. Sanchez has proven he's the starter this year, and if he's not, no backup QB is going to change that. Save the money and the cap space on a player to develop. Russell Wilson is that player.
By drafting him the Jets get a low cost, high potential guy. They get a player that if he's on the field can be used in a true option offense if they want to add a wrinkle to it. He can legitimately sling it or pitch to McKnight or Greene. He has 4 years experience in a pro style offense with NC State where he was dominant. He has experience in a run based option offense which Tony Sparano would love. Or you could groom him as a regular drop back passer. One thing that's clear if you look at the tale of the tape, it's that he's not a college player with no NFL postion. He's not a project player to throw in the pile. He's not a convert him to a running back or db. He's a quarterback, and he's good at it.
If my arguments or these videos of his NC State and Wisconsin days don't convince you than just read the links to the other scouts who have analysis on him. Thanks for reading, and Russell I hope the Jets call your name in April.