Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, long overlooked because of his height, draft status, supporting cast, defense, and unconventional style towards greatness, probably can’t be called “overlooked” anymore. Rotoworld recently ranked him second in their “Best QB Situations” article (and he was first in 2016), while most analysts now have him in the top five, at least.
Wilson is 28, a three-time Pro Bowler, a two-time NFC Champion, and a one-time Super Bowl winner. He has the second-best odds to win MVP next year (tied with Aaron Rodgers). Wilson’s arm is above-average accurate within 15 yards, but he could also be in the conversation as the best deep passer in the NFL. If not now, then the writing is on the wall for him to be historically great in that category when he hits his 30s, a la Drew Brees. He’s also mobile, and if 90% of the league’s quarterbacks were asked to do what he does, behind the Seahawks offensive line, they would have hit IR many times over by now. WIlson has yet to miss a game.
Last season, Wilson was tasked to throw it a career-high 546 times, and while his rate stats went down a bit, they didn’t go down as much as one could have feared. He still only had a 2% interception rate and his Y/A of 7.7 was still pretty good. His rushing numbers were down, but he played through a high ankle sprain, a sprained MCL, and a pectoral injury — mostly all at the same time.
Look at the best case scenario for Wilson next season; If Luke Joeckel and Germain Ifedi are upgrades at the tackle spots, allowing Wilson more time in the pocket, where he has excelled despite lazy reports to the contrary; If Tyler Lockett and Paul Richardson remain healthy and Amara Darboh has an impact — consider the difference between that and Jermaine Kearse getting 89 targets; If Thomas Rawls, C.J. Prosise, and Eddie Lacy can stay on the field and upgrade a running game that was decimated by injuries last season; If Wilson can play without pain; and if Jimmy Graham and Doug Baldwin can continue doing what we know they are capable of doing. That sounds like a lot of “Ifs” but give me a couple of them along with Wilson being healthy and I expect he will have a career year.
Potentially a year better than any other quarterback in the game, plus Wilson is still young, a squeaky clean person off the field, and relatively affordable given that 12 quarterbacks are set to make more in 2017 than him and costly extensions will be coming for others. With that being said, can we carefully point to the ways that Wilson is better than each and every other QB in the NFL?
Oh, I was born for this. Let’s start with the obvious bottom of the barrel.
Why Russell Wilson is better than:
Josh McCown, New York Jets
Christian Hackenberg, New York Jets
Bryce Petty, New York Jets
People don’t like it when you project the quarterback who will go number one overall next year because we’ve seen those top prospects fall from grace many times before. Fine. But the 2018 QB class is good enough to expect that a QB will be the number one pick, whether it’s USC’s Sam Darnold or someone else. Whoever he is, there’s a greater than 15-percent chance that he’s going to play for the Jets. When McCown (2-20 record over the last three seasons) is the favorable alternative to your previous starter, it just means you were already in a heap of shit. Positive reports about Hackenberg’s offseason are cute.
Brian Hoyer, San Francisco 49ers
You can’t tell me SF isn’t punting this season like they have the last two. Hoyer’s competition is Matt Barkley, rookie C.J. Beathard, and UDFA Nick Mullens. Over this last 17 games, Hoyer has thrown 25 touchdowns, seven interceptions, 7.1 Y/A, 62.9% completions, and has a rating of 93.7. On the other hand, in his 20s, Hoyer threw 19 touchdowns, 19 interceptions, and had a rating of 76.8. He’s a solid backup QB, but as a starter has to rank in the bottom-three going into next season. All told, 0-2 wins seems realistic for the Niners, but Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch seem reassured they won’t get the same treatment as Chip Kelly and Jim Tomsula.
Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans
Tom Savage, Houston Texans
I like the pick of Watson probably moreso than the pick of any other QB this year, but obviously you can’t put any rookie in Wilson’s class regardless of draft status or contractual benefits. Savage is the likely starter this season, putting Houston in position — again — to be no better than an average team that’s wasting an excellent defense and number one receiver.
Jared Goff, LA Rams
One of the worst rookie seasons of the modern era. I still think Goff’s best case scenario is somewhere in the world of Alex Smith. And his likely scenario is possibly much, much worse.
Cody Kessler, Cleveland Browns
DeShone Kizer, Cleveland Browns
Props to Kessler for having a half-decent season last year (better than Goff, that’s for sure, and he did it on a worse team) but he could just as easily be out of the NFL by 2018 for all we know. Kizer’s draft status as a mid-second round pick is not as “QBOTF” as so many people believe it is. Mid-second round usually points to career backup or ultimate disappointment.
Mike Glennon, Chicago Bears
Mitchell Trubisky, Chicago Bears
My prediction is that Trubisky will replace Glennon in Week 5’s Monday Night matchup against the Vikings ... and Glennon will replace Trubisky before Week 11’s game against the Lions. John Fox will be fired after Week 14.
Paxton Lynch, Denver Broncos
Trevor Siemian, Denver Broncos
This will become Lynch’s team by the end of the year, but his ceiling is perhaps more explosive and less refined than Wilson. Consider a more athletic version of Jay Cutler, perhaps? Even a more athletic Cutler is still 2-3 steps below Wilson.
Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars
There’s an argument that continuity with offensive coordinators is integral to a quarterback’s success, but if that continuity is Nathaniel Hackett, maybe that isn’t so true. The Jaguars need a gameplan that simply cuts Bortles’ interceptions down from the 17 range to the seven range, while still throwing it 550 times (Bortles threw it over 600 times the last two seasons). Bortles may not be capable of that and this could be his last season as a starter.
Sam Bradford, Minnesota Vikings
Teddy Bridgewater, Minnesota Vikings
August 30 will mark the one-year anniversary of Teddy shredding his knee in a non-contact injury. Some reports had it as a two-year recovery time, and then again Bridgewater was out at practice this week doing some throwing — but he’s still not close to being cleared for a real practice and he’ll probably at least hit PUP. Meanwhile, we saw the absolute best of Bradford last season, which is the philosophy of “If we keep his entire game in a 10-yard bubble, he’ll lead the NFL in completion percentage but also produce barely 7 Y/A with few touchdowns.” Bradford is football’s version of American Dad!: Familiar, consistently treated like a premier entity, improved but overrated based on that improvement.
Who is the best "bottom of the league" QB in the NFL (rookies excluded)
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One of the other ones