Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson was the darling of the 2012 NFL rookie class. He beat out big money free agent pickup Matt Flynn and seized the starting job. He played just as well as generational quarterback prospects Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III.
Wilson was voted by fans as the Rookie of the Year, scored a Pro Bowl replacement bid and nearly led Seattle to the NFC Championship Game. He did it all after being an undersized third-round pick who entered the NFL known as much for his winning ways as his less-than-ideal height.
Just don't go looking for another Russell Wilson in the 2013 NFL Draft. Chances are, he's not there. It was one of the many topics that ESPN NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper talked about in a conference call on Wednesday.
"Russell Wilson was almost one of those once in a lifetime type of players. How many 5-10 ½ quarterbacks have been successful in this league? There’s been a lot of guys come along, but it was one of those guys, you catch lightning in a bottle here," Kiper said. "Russell Wilson, he went in the third round because people wondered about that. I brought up he’s going to have to do something nobody else has done. And I made this point on draft day: If he were 6-2, he’d be the No. 1 pick overall, maybe ahead of Andrew Luck. Maybe he would’ve gone ahead of Luck and Griffin. Maybe one or two, maybe he would’ve gone third, but he wouldn’t have gone past the fourth pick to Cleveland had he been 6-2 or taller."
Playing at both Wisconsin and North Carolina State, Wilson finished his college career by taking the Badgers to the Rose Bowl and finishing with an 11-3 record. Those digging for the Russell Wilson in this year's draft may point out Louisiana Tech's Colby Cameron. After all, he broke Wilson's NCAA record for most pass attempts without an interception. And he's a plucky, late-round player.
Or there's Jordan Rodgers, rich in bloodlines, who helped make Vanderbilt (Vanderbilt!) a winner. Or Nick Florence of Baylor, who paced the high-powered Bears offense without Griffin.
But Kiper was adamant Wilson's rarity.
"Russell Wilson, you’re not going to find Russell Wilsons every year. You’re not going to find Russell Wilsons every 20 years, 5-10 ½ quarterbacks that can play at the level, you’re just not going to find. We haven’t had them before. So if you count them, forget one hand. One finger, two fingers. I mean you don’t need more than a couple of fingers to figure that out.
"So at the end of the day, don’t try to find that guy. He’s not there."