The Senior Bowl’s North Team practices will get underway in a short while, and NFL officials, coaches and scouts will get another look at one of the most intriguing quarterback prospects in Wisconsin’s Russell Wilson.
The Richmond, Va., native ranked among the most prolific passers in college football last season, throwing for 3,175 yards, 33 touchdowns and only four interceptions. His quarterback rating of 191.8 edged out Robert Griffin III for tops in the country. Wilson finished ninth in the Heisman Trophy voting.
The problem is that Wilson is officially only 5-foot-10 and weighs only 203 pounds, which raises the question of whether he’s too small to succeed in the NFL. Most draft projections have him taken in the fifth or sixth round.
Wilson chuckles at the notion that he’s too small to play the pro game.
“If you can play football, you can play football,” he said. “There’s been a lot of great quarterbacks who have been 6-6, and a lot have been 5-10, to 5-11 to 6-foot. Drew Brees is an example. He’s been having a great career and played great football this year.”
Wilson pointed out that at Wisconsin, he played behind the fourth-biggest offensive line in the country – a unit comprised of players with an average height of 6-foot-5.
“I’ve proven that I can play, and it’s not a factor in my mind at all,” Wilson said. “I get my depth on my drops, I play tall. I have a high, quick release, and I play with rhythm and timing, as you see with Drew Brees all the time. He has a high, quick release and he throws a great ball.”
Wilson says that along with his technique, his intangibles serve him well and help compensate for his lack of size.
“As far as mentally, and my approach to the game, there are three things,” he said. “I think my leadership, my attention to detail is something that’s very, very important as well, and...I believe I’m the most competitive guy out there every time I step on the field. That’s the way I’ve always been.”
On Monday night, at the Senior Bowl’s players and media dinner, Russell finished a round of interviews and saw Redskins coach Mike Shanahan standing a little ways off doing interviews of his own. He asked a Redskins employee to introduce him to the coach.
Shanahan gave Wilson a firm handshake and told the quarterback he’d like to spend some time with him soon. Wilson beamed and said, “I’d like that.”
Wilson said later:, “It’s a great moment to me, and tremendous being here with all these coaches. And the Redskins, they’re only two hours away – if that – from my hometown, and I know a lot of season ticket holders are hoping I go there. But I’ll go anywhere. It’ll be a blessing. Wherever I go in whatever round, it’s an opportunity to step in there and compete for the starting job, and that’s the way I always am.”