Measuring up Russell Wilson

Early evidence shows the Seahawks' QB is NFL-caliber, despite height

Originally Published: October 18, 2012
By Chris Sprow | ESPN Insider
Russell WilsonJoe Nicholson/US PresswireSeattle QB Russell Wilson is putting up solid numbers for the 4-2 Seahawks.

The NFL holds a bias against short quarterbacks sort of like the state of Florida holds a bias against downhill skiers. There are questions about whether quarterbacks not quite 5-foot-11 can succeed in the NFL and it affects how they are graded by scouts and team personnel. But that's also because, like a lack of skiing talent in Florida, there's no significant pool to draw from. There's a mystery element. Short on skiers in Florida? Build them an indoor slope. Short on sub-6-foot QBs in the NFL? Find scouts a legit a prospect.

Consider these facts:

• Among the top-50 NFL QB prospects for the 2013 draft class in our Scouts Inc. listings, where heights are close to official, only two currently stand under 6 feet tall (South Florida's Bruce Daniels and Pittsburgh's Tino Sunseri), and neither is likely to even be drafted. Actually, if you consult the current roster listings among current BCS-qualifying college teams, not a single one lists a QB under 6 feet tall as its starter. (Even for USF and Pitt -- which is why program heights are always considered unofficial.)

• And even among the high school QB rankings, there isn't a QB under 6 feet tall until No. 97 overall. Think about that: Even at an age when a player could still be growing, there lacks a short option with a high prospect ceiling.

As a result, it is almost a statistical certainty that in the next handful of years, we are not going to see a QB Russell Wilson's height (a shade under 5-foot-11) even evaluated by NFL scouts as a legit prospect, much less drafted.

This means that we will be forced to measure Wilson's success in a vacuum. If Wilson succeeds, perhaps a league that runs on fads -- look at the new breed of tight end and the surge of bigger DBs to deal with them -- will open its doors to the possibility of shorter QBs. But that will also mean colleges, high schools and even middle schools must open those doors first.

What Wilson will be, as colleague Mel Kiper said on draft day, is a great test case; everything about Wilson in terms of performance prior to the NFL showed he's a major talent, and the NFL lacks a sample size, or proper means of comparison. So as Wilson sits in this vacuum his talent has created, let's consider how he measures up against other NFL QBs, as well as our assumptions.

So far, the results are interesting.


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