August 29, 2012
Just a handful of days ago this wouldn't have been a conversation worth engaging even in a back-alley bar in Seattle. Andrew Luck, spectacular in his first pair of preseason performances, would've won in a walk. But Russell Wilson's standout effort in Kansas City changed the game. Now slated to open the season as the 'Hawks' starter, he has awakened from a deep sleep. In this episode of 'The Docs' Brandon Funston and Brad Evans cast their rookie vote. Read. React. Ridicule.
Homer Funston stumps for Seattle: Calm, cool, and collected … Grace under fire … Ice in his veins … Call it what you want, but Russell Wilson has it. You want a taste? Check out this drive from his virtuosic Week 3 performance at KC. This cat can do it all. And if he had prototypical NFL QB height, he would have been in the discussion with Luck and Robert Griffin III back in April's NFL Draft.
Many of us have been conditioned to assume that Wilson is not in the class of those other two rookies simply because of what the Kipers and Mayocks of the world tell us, and because of where they all landed in the draft. But we know how inexact a science the NFL Draft is — let's just say that the top three quarterbacks to go in your fantasy draft weren't taken among the top 20 college players in their draft class. Put Wilson's numbers at Wisconsin last season up against Luck and RGIII and you'll find that against the same level of competition, Wilson had the highest QB rating — highest in Div.-1A, in fact.
In every other way save height, Wilson stands tall. He's got long arms, big hands, excellent vision, elusive scrambling ability and quick decision-making. Oh, and good luck hunting down tape of defensive linemen batting down his passes. It's not an easy exercise, trust me.
With his ability to amass significant fantasy points on the ground — he's sixth in preseason play among all rushers (not just QBs) in rushing yards with 150 — in addition to his strong upside in the passing game, I'm all-in with Wilson ahead of Luck as one of the top backup fantasy QBs on the board.
Evans feels Lucky: There's no disputing the talent and sky-high ceiling of each passer, but it's clear to me who needs to fall off draft boards first.
Unlike busted No. 1s of yesteryear — Tim Couch, I'm talking to you — Luck has transitioned seamlessly to the pro game. His progressions, decision-making, huddle command and composure under pressure are off-the-charts. Most importantly, so is his resiliency. Instead of dwelling on a pick six he threw to Ike Taylor in Week 2 of preseason play, he shook it off and guided the Colts on a 10-play, 80-yard touchdown drive. For any inexperienced quarterback, amnesia is a vital trait.
Overall, Luck finished exhibition play 40-for-64 (62.5 completion percentage) for 514 passing yards, three scores and two interceptions. His well-balanced physical tools and Einstein smarts arrow to brilliant performances to come. The comparisons to Peyton Manning are completely warranted.
Nothing against Wilson — he's a fascinating dual threat who should turn a fruitful profit — but Luck is the more gifted player in a riper situation. Indy's inadequacies on defense, even with Vontae Davis now on roster, and in the run game virtually guarantees a sizable weekly workload for the Colt. Early deficits will be common. It's conceivable he averages 30-plus attempts this season, netting nearly 4,000 yards and 24-26 TDs. And don't overlook his scrambling abilities. Luck ran the same 40-yard time as Cam Newton at the Combine and has shown he isn't bashful about tucking and running if needed. There's a good chance he'll total roughly 300 yards with 3-4 TDs on the ground.
Seattle, meanwhile, is one of the scariest defensive teams around. Combine that with the presence of Marshawn Lynch, and Wilson's volume will pale in comparison. The 'Hawks' stable of pass catchers (Sidney Rice, Doug Baldwin, Braylon Edwards, Golden Tate, Kellen Winslow vs. Reggie Wayne, Austin Collie, T.Y. Hilton, Coby Fleener/Dwayne Allen) isn't as appealing either.
In this debate, the Colt is the proper QB to saddle.
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