We all knew that there was something special with Russell Wilson when he was named the Seattle Seahawks’ starting quarterback as a rookie. What we didn’t know is that he’s already on a level that 99 percent of rookies never get to in their first year in the NFL.
Yes, Wilson is going to hit his fair share of speed bumps this season. Yes, Wilson will undoubtedly suffer from some growing pains. But Wilson will also take some strides that most quarterbacks don’t take until their third or fourth year in the league.
One example of this advanced level of quarterbacking was Wilson’s first NFL touchdown pass during the Seahawks’ Week 1 matchup with the Arizona Cardinals.
While down in the red zone, the Seahawks came to the line as Wilson read the defense. After seeing something that he believed he could manipulate, the rookie passer quickly got under center and took the snap. He swiveled to the right as the Cardinals defense adjusted, didn’t like what he saw, and made his progressions. Instead of forcing the throw to where he originally planned to go, Wilson turned towards the left and watched as wide receiver Sidney Rice came open across the middle.
The end result was an impressive touchdown grab by Rice that also gave Wilson his first career touchdown pass. The points, however, were only a fraction of the story.
The abilities to make the pre-snap read, adjust to the post-snap defense and find the open receiver all in a matter of about three seconds were unbelievable for a rookie. Wilson’s maturation at this point in his young NFL career makes it easy to believe that he has only scratched the surface of his potential.
The next aspect of Wilson’s game that really impressed me was his discipline as a passer.
Put simply, when Wilson runs, he makes defenses pay. It’s clear as daylight that the former Wisconsin Badger is a supreme athlete, but the maturation shines through when he keeps his eyes downfield instead of tucking the ball every time the pass blocking breaks down.
Many scrambling quarterbacks depend too heavily on their feet to pick up yards; that’s not the case with Wilson. Instead, he uses his athleticism to escape the incoming pressure and buy himself more time to make a smart throw. If the opening isn’t there, he often throws the ball away instead of forcing it into coverage or taking a sack. As he continues to develop as an NFL quarterback, he’ll learn to harness that ability and maximize the amount of opportunities that he has in the passing game.
Wilson only tucks the ball and runs when he’s exhausted all other options. That patience and discipline is something that you just don’t see in rookie gunslingers.
The final characteristic of Wilson’s that makes him stand out among rookie quarterbacks is his leadership. Wilson is the ultimate winner who demands his teammates respect, even at the NFL level.
During his showdown with the Cardinals, Wilson could often be seen talking with any offensive positional group that would listen. Whether he was in the sideline huddle with the offensive lineman or giving his wide receivers a pep talk, the Seattle starter was doing whatever he could to help his fellow Seahawks succeed.
Again, that’s just not something that you typically see from a rookie quarterback regardless of pedigree or draft positioning. To top it all off, he has a strong arm with the accuracy and vision to pick defenses apart at will.
Wilson already has all of the tools to be a franchise quarterback, and there’s still plenty of progress for him to make. He’s gotten off to a great start, though, stealing the Seahawks’ starting spot from Matt Flynn in a few short months and showing immense promise in his first game.
The Seahawks found themselves a good one, and they only had to give up a third-round pick to get him. Talk about a steal.