Generally, we try to avoid hypothetical lists around here. But, comments around Russell Wilson’s position on the NFL Network’s top 100 countdown caught our attention.
The NFL Network is filling airtime by counting down the top 100 players in the league, as voted on by players. Wilson is one of five quarterbacks who will be part of the yet-to-be revealed top 20 players. Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and Marshawn Lynch will also be in that final top 20 overall.
The quarterbacks already on the list are Cam Newton (24), Andrew Luck (30), Ben Roethlisberger (31), Philip Rivers (34), Joe Flacco (58), Nick Foles (70), Tony Romo (71), Colin Kaepernick (81) and Matthew Stafford (100).
That leaves Wilson, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees as quarterbacks in the top 20.
Kam Chancellor is the only Seahawk on the list so far. He came in at 65, a number he was not pleased with.
Top 100 a joke.. Take me off please.— Kameron (@Kam_Chancellor) June 13, 2014
Back to Wilson.
NFL.com had its experts assess Wilson’s status among other quarterbacks. They were underwhelmed, notably former Washington Redskins general manager and senior vice president of football operations for the Houston Texans, Charley Casserly. Here’s what Casserly had to say about Wilson being in the top five:
I do not consider Russell Wilson a Top-10 quarterback, let alone one who belongs in the top five. The Seahawks win because they have one of the NFL’s best defenses and an outstanding running back in Marshawn Lynch. Wilson — who I think is a good, but not elite, passer — operates in an offense that takes a lot of pressure off him, meaning the Seahawks don’t have to rely upon his arm to win games.
When evaluating players you always ask yourself how would that player perform with another team that is better than his. For example, if you put Andrew Luck in Seattle would his numbers improve? I don’t have any doubt they would. In no particular order, I would rank these AFC signal-callers ahead of Wilson: Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger, Andrew Luck, Tom Brady and, possibly, Joe Flacco. And the NFC quarterbacks I would rank ahead of him: Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Eli Manning (despite his poor 2013 season), Matt Ryan, Matthew Stafford, Tony Romo and Nick Foles.
Among others, here’s who Adam Schein would take over Wilson:
I’d take Colin Kaepernick and his explosiveness, the rejuvenated Philip Rivers, and the underappreciated Tony Romo over Wilson.
A couple others add that they don’t think Wilson is a proverbial “elite” quarterback — at least, not yet.
As always, there are dozens of variables in quarterback assessment. A key one for Wilson, as we have noted here ad nauseam, was Seattle’s offensive line being its weakest overall unit last season, one that Wilson and Lynch often made look better than it was. That’s a big issue when looking at Wilson’s 2013, which is apparently lost on this group.
I’d also counter one point in Casserly’s logic, where he says this:
“…operates in an offense that takes a lot of pressure off him, meaning the Seahawks don’t have to rely upon his arm to win games.”
Yes, the Seahawks are run-first. Yes, the offense is not built solely around Wilson like Denver’s is around Manning. But, there is high value and high pressure in being an efficient player when your opportunities come (similar to receivers, like Doug Baldwin).
Just because Wilson isn’t asked to throw 45 times a game, doesn’t mean a less efficient version of him couldn’t lose games for the Seahawks. His mobility and efficiency (third in YPC, third in touchdown percentage, seventh in QB rating) had to, at times, carry the Seahawks. Particularly his mobility, something many of the folks listed above him do not possess.
If you see eight in the box every down with a statue quarterback, Seattle has a problem and likely loses three other regular-season games last year (at Carolina, at Arizona and vs. Tennessee). Then, you’re talking about 10-6.
As Casserly argues, if you want to swap players out, what does he think Eli Manning, Ryan, Stafford, Romo and Foles would have looked like behind that Seattle line and in the NFC West?
Does Wilson have things to improve on? Of course. That can start with third down and overall completion percentage.
Does it seem some of these folks miss key points? Well, yes.
Wilson may not be one of the five best quarterbacks in the league. Insinuating he’s a mid-pack player at his position, however, is off-base.
Players ranked 20-11 will be revealed today at 6 p.m.