Broncos Draft Prospects - QB Russell Wilson

Russell Wilson of the Wisconsin Badgers throws a 3-yard touchdown pass to Jeff Duckworth in the 1st quarter against Michigan State during the Big 10 Conference Championship Game at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 3, 2011. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

UPDATE: Wilson is scheduled for his visit tomorrow (4/18)

In their ongoing search for a Quarterback to develop during Peyton Manning’s tenure, the Broncos plan to bring in Wisconsin's Russell Wilson for a predraft visit, possibly this week. Denver already has Adam Weber and Colorado State product Caleb Hanie behind Manning, but they will require at least one more body for Training Camp. According to reports, there is an interest in former Steelers backup Dennis Dixon as well. If the team signs Dixon, they would have the luxury of waiting til the 2013 draft to find a young gunslinger.

Before playing his senior season at Wisconsin and leading the Badgers to the Rose Bowl, Russell Wilson starred at North Carolina State. He ranks second in Wolfpack history, behind Philip Rivers, with 682 completions in three years.

Wilson, born November 29, 1988, is a 5’11", 202 lb. Quarterback who played for the Wisconsin Badgers football team in 2011. The 3 years prior, he played for the NC State Wolfpack football and baseball teams before transferring for his final season of eligibility in 2011. He started all 4 years in college. In 2010, Russell was drafted by the Colorado Rockies Baseball team with the 140th pick. He played Class A ball in the Minors during 2011. He released from his athletic scholarship by NC State on April 29, 2011 with one year of eligibility remaining. On June 27, Wilson decided to attend the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and to play football in the fall for the Badgers.

He was a redshirt in 2007 at NC State and in 2008, became the first freshman ever to be named the first-team All-ACC Quarterback. Wilson was also named the league's Rookie of the Year.

In 2009, Wilson broke Andre Woodson's all-time NCAA record of 325 consecutive pass attempts without an Interception. 2010 saw Wilson lead the Wolfpack to a 9 win season (9–4), including a win over the West Virginia Mountaineers in the 2010 Champs Sports Bowl. Russell led the Atlantic Coast Conference with 274.1 passing yards per game and total offense with 307.5 yards per game and received Second-team All-ACC recognition.

In 2011, Russell joined the Wisconsin Badgers. He absorbed their Pro style Offensive playbook over the summer and started that fall. At the end of the regular season, Wilson was named first team All-Big Ten by both the coaches and media. He also won the Griese-Brees Big Ten Quarterback of the Year award which was renamed in 2011 after Purdue's Bob Griese and Drew Brees. On December 3, 2011, Wilson led the Wisconsin Badgers to victory in the inaugural Big 10 championship game and was named the game's Grange-Griffin MVP. Wilson threw for three touchdowns in the game which ran his season total to 31. Wilson became just the fourth quarterback in Big Ten history to throw at least 30 touchdowns passes in a season (Drew Brees, Kyle Orton and Troy Smith). At the end of the season Wilson finished ninth in the Heisman Trophy voting.

CBSSports.com has Wilson ranked as the 7th best QB in the Nation, placing him 115th overall in the 2012 Draft. Their Scouting Report:

Accuracy: Was the nation's most efficient quarterback in 2011, earning a 191.78 QB rating
-- over 22 points higher than the next highest rated QB from a pro-style offense (Andrew Luck) … Showcased the ability to consistently throw receivers open versus single coverage as a senior, demonstrating impressive improvement in this area from his time at NC State.
Delivers a tight spiral that is easily tracked and caught. Typically hits his receivers in stride whether on zipped crossing routes, touch passes dropped over the top of defenders or line drives leading receivers out of bounds on the deep out.

Arm Strength: Arguably Wilson's most impressive trait, especially considering his lack of ideal size. Can easily make every NFL throw, showing the ability to drive the football to the sideline on a line from the opposite hash. Can send the ball 40-50 yards downfield with a flick of his wrist.

Setup/Release: Efficient set-up and delivery of the ball. Experienced taking snaps from under center and shotgun. Drops back quickly and shows good rhythm and timing despite limited experience playing with Wisconsin's receivers, planting his back foot and driving the quick slant. Has a quick, over the top release and does an excellent job of finding clear passing lanes from which to throw.

Reading Defenses: Cerebral quarterback who is rarely fooled by coverage. Makes strong pre-snap reads and demonstrated improvement as a senior in manipulating the defense with his eyes and legs. Shows good poise in a muddy pocket, stepping up to avoid the rush and challenging linebackers to either commit to stopping him from scrambling or dropping off to cover receivers behind them. Is more than willing to scramble but does a nice job of keeping his eyes downfield until the last possible second.

On The Move: Very good elusiveness and speed for the position but his most impressive trait may be his vision. Anticipates pressure well and does a nice job of forcing the defense to commit and taking advantage of the weakness exposed once they do. Very good mobility for bootlegs and roll outs, showing good accuracy and arm strength to fire passes
downfield.

--Rob Rang


Mike Mayock's take:

"Wilson looks like Doug Flutie to me, he really does," Mayock said. "He makes plays, he’s smart, he’s tough." Mayock also praised Wilson's "innate understanding of making plays."


COMBINE OVERVIEW

40 Yard Time: 4.55
20 Yard Shuttle: 4.09
Vertical Jump: 34"
Broad Jump: 9'10"
3-Cone Drill: 6.97
Arm Length: 31"
Hand Span: 10 1/4"

Wilson is this year's big-time question mark at quarterback. Unlike those who have held this title in the past, Wilson is a stellar passer who shows arm strength and accuracy when he is able to deliver the ball without a hitch. A transfer from North Carolina St. over the summer, he has outstanding football intelligence as he picked up the Wisconsin offense in a short time and was the opening-day starter. However, at his height teams will have concerns whether or not he can see to make the throws at the next level. He is a mechanical mover who has strong technique and leadership qualities. If Wilson were three inches taller there would be debate at the top of the draft as to where he fits in, but look for teams to take a flier on him in late rounds to see if he can develop and outplay his size.

ANALYSIS

STRENGTHS: Wilson is an accurate passer. He is a very mechanical quarterback who is
consistent in his drop step and thoroughly understands how to move within the pocket and evade when the pocket collapses. He is an athlete and can torque his body to make any sort of throw on the run, and is accurate in this setting. He is a born signal caller who shows command of the offense. He has the arm strength to make the deep throws and the touch to put it on a receiver in stride. He is effective when scrambling and is a classic play extender.
WEAKNESSES: Wilson's height will be his biggest inhibitor at the next level and the largest reason for his late-round value. It remains to be seen if he can throw effectively from the pocket at the next level.


Pro Football Weekly's evaluation of Wilson:

The Way We See It:
Wilson quickly assimilated in a new offense, improved his decision making and emerged as a dual-threat playmaker as a senior. Projects as a backup in the pros but could factor readily as an athletic, move-the-pocket, speciality-package weapon.


and finally, MHR Staff member Sayre Bedinger has this to say from
NFLMocks

Scouting Report

Wilson unfortunately doesn’t have ideal size for an NFL quarterback, but fortunately for him, it might not wind up mattering. Wilson isn’t quite a clone of Seneca Wallace, but they are pretty similar players and Wallace made it in the NFL for a while. There will be a team that finds a spot for this guy, who is one of the more veteran players in college football. After three years at North Carolina State, Wilson took his show on the road to Wisconsin after being drafted to Major League Baseball by the Colorado Rockies. Graduated in three years from NC State, very smart guy who has been one of the biggest playmakers in the ACC up to this past year. Since coming to Wisconsin, he’s played nothing but Heisman caliber football, throwing for 1,136 yards, 11 touchdowns, and only one interception in four games as the Badgers’ starting quarterback. Dual threat quarterback who has a strong arm and can make all the needed throws. Has struggled with accuracy in his career but his decision making has improved considerably with the Badgers. The fact that he earned the starting job and has such great chemistry with his teammates already is a real testament to his work ethic and leadership ability. It will be interesting to see what he plays at the next level, but he undoubtedly has a future in the NFL or MLB.

PROS: Arm strength, accuracy, decision making, athletic ability, clutch factor, vision, escape ability, coachability, teammates love him, great leader, doesn’t make a lot of mistakes

CONS: Height

Bottom Line:
If Wilson were two inches taller, he would be a first round pick, and maybe the number one pick overall. He is such a great athlete and leader that he will likely wind up being one of the best quarterbacks in his class despite his stature. I’ve watched a lot of Wisconsin games this year and haven’t noticed any deficiency in his game because of his height, but it will likely cause him to be under-drafted.

Russell Wilson - You Tube at Gruden Camp

After further review, I have to agree with Sayre. The bottom line appears to be that Russell Wilson would be at least a 1st-round pick if he was 4-6 inches taller. He has decent arm strength and is very accurate. A terrific athlete and team leader who played in a Pro Style Offense in College. Wilson showed his intelligence by absorbing the Wisconsin playbook after transferring from NC State over the summer. He didn't miss a beat and became the Badgers starting Quarterback by opening day. Russell is rated as a 3rd-rounder, but could rise as high as the second or fall to the 4th.

Broncos CFO John Elway has shown that the team will do their due diligence on every Quarterback prospect. They have already looked at Brock Osweiler, Kirk Cousins and Ryan Lindley, so having a look at Wilson is par for the course. As for EFX, look for them to scout more Quarterbacks in the next week and a half.

Go Broncos!

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