With the NFL preseason in the books, I thought it was time to look over some rookie quarterbacks to see where they stand. Russell Wilson has set off on his journey to prove the naysayers wrong on the subject of his height. I've felt for a while now, if anyone could overcome the height issue, its Wilson. He has the accuracy, arm strength, quick release, and intelligence to read an NFL defense and be able to anticipate throws.
I realize this praise is coming after a 5/11 performance last night, but he's performed well throughout the preseason. The Seahawks were creative with Wilson, using play-action and roll-outs to his advantage. But here are some aspects to his game that I thought were impressive.
The first is timing. As I said above, Wilson has good anticipation on his throws, but timing with receivers isn't always there at this point in a rookie's career.
You can see in the picture above, that the ball is just about to be thrown by Wilson as the receiver begins his break.
The ball arrives at the receiver as he exits his break. With timing like that, cornerbacks don't have any chance to make a play on the ball without completely guessing the route. This may look like a simple, every day throw, and it is, but the timing is key. Most rookie quarterbacks struggle to get timing down with their receivers. Some people have said that it can take anywhere up to two or even three years to get perfect timing down. Wilson isn't perfect, but he shows he's getting there quicker than most.
The next aspect of Wilson's game that has shone during preseason is his ability to go through progressions, and checkdown under pressure.
Here Wilson reads the shallow crossing route, seeing that it's covered. He moves onto another read, before the pressure begins to arrive.
Wilson continued to scan the field, knowing his checkdown option was there. He waited until the last second to finally check it down. He managed complete the pass thanks to his quick release to get the ball out just before he dragged down to the ground.
His accuracy, even under pressure, has been pretty good. I think this next play might have been his best throw of the entire preseason.
The Chiefs defensive line manage to force Wilson to move.
But Wilson shows composure. He re-sets his feet, and unloads a pass down the sideline.
The ball is placed perfectly over the cornerbacks outstretched arm, and right in the hands of receiver Braylon Edwards. That's a terrific throw, with precise accuracy and ball placement. I loved the poise shown when being forced to move and re-set.
Next we have the ability we all knew Russell Wilson would be able to use in the NFL regardless of his size, mobility. I said earlier that the Seahawks have done well to roll him out of the pocket and get him to throw on the run. But the other thing Wilson has been able to do is escape the pocket and pick up the first down himself.
Wilson recognizes that the pocket is breaking down quickly, so tucks the ball and takes off.
He shows the defender that he's running to the right.
As soon as the defender flips his hips, Wilson puts his foot in the ground and cuts back to the left.
He manages to break a diving arm tackle on his way to the sideline.
Wilson is smart enough to just step out of bounds, rather than take a hit and potentially get injured. That's a veteran move from a rookie quarterback. Fans love to see it when a quarterback runs over a guy, or throws himself into a block. But as anyone who has seen Hard Knocks recently knows that coaches and veteran players, like Jake Long, don't like it when their rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill goes to throw a block for someone or attempts to fight for extra yards at the risk of injury. Wilson takes what he can, and then lives to fight another day.
One negative thing I've seen with Wilson is that he does sometimes take a risk with throws on the run. One of the golden rules of quarterbacking is never throw back across the field once you've left the pocket. I saw Wilson do this on numerous occasions, but get away with it.
Wilson is under pressure early and forced to role out to his right.
He spots a receiver sat in the middle of the field, but has to throw back across the field to make the throw.
Wilson is extremely lucky that the defender couldn't quite get to this. The ball is inches from being tipped of even intercepted. You can't afford to take this kind of risks too often, or it will start to hurt you. But on this occasion, Wilson gets away with it, and completes the pass.
So those were some of my views on Russell Wilson's preseason. I think that he'll be starting at some point for the Seahawks this year, if not week one. But what is your view on Wilson? Do you think he's too small to play quarterback in the NFL? Let me know in the comments below.