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BWTB: Finding The Next Wilson

Posted Feb 4, 2014

How Russell Wilson's short but spectacular career has changed the perception of a franchise quarterback.


On Seattle's first offensive series, quarterback Russell Wilson felt pressure bearing down. Facing 3rd-and-9, the signal caller escaped from the pocket to his left, evading pursuit while still keeping his eyes down field. A few seconds later, Wilson, off balance, fired a bullet to Jermaine Kearse, resulting in a Seahawks first down.

That's what Russell Wilson does.

Fo college football fans who've watched Johnny Manziel the past two years, that sequence looked eerily familiar.

Many know the story of Seattle's second year quarterback, a two-sport star that fell to the third round (75th overall pick) of the 2012 NFL draft. In just two years, Wilson has become the face of Seattle's resurgence, combining with head coach Pete Carroll and a staunch defense to capture the Seahawks' first ever championship.

Wilson doesn't fit the mold of a prototypical NFL quarterback, standing just under six feet tall and using his legs just as much as his major league caliber arm. Despite those perceived physical limitations, Wilson has not only thrived as Seattle's QB, but has opened the door to other players who have similar skillsets.

Wilson isn't the first short quarterback to have success or win a Super Bowl. Drew Brees lead New Orleans to a title in 2010, and the six foot tall gunslinger has been named the NFL's MVP. Michael Vick and Doug Flutie also found varying degrees of success in the league despite being 'only' six feet tall.

However, Wilson's style of play is unique, and how quickly he's gone from questionable draft selection to Super Bowl winner is nothing short of amazing.

Why does this matter to the Houston Texans? Wilson's success is proof that the search for the team's next quarterback can go in multiple directions.

The comparisons between Wilson and Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel have been made on numerous occasions, and the measurables match up. Manziel, listed at 6-foot-1, is a dual-threat quarterback, who can keep a play alive with his feet as well as his arm. Manziel, like Wilson, ranked in the top five in the NCAA in passing efficiency in his final college season. Both also completed 70 percent of their passes in that year.

Even Carroll sees the similarities.

"Without question Russell has at least turned some heads," Carroll said to Yahoo Sports during Super Bowl week. "It's exciting to see that happen. There's a lot of marvelous athletes, and we're seeing it right now – Johnny is a great example of an incredible athlete who might not have been considered as highly until Russell has his success."

The aforementioned Brees, who faced the same 'undersized' question coming out of Purdue, believes that Wilson's success proves Manziel has the chance to have an NFL career. In a recent interview with Fox's Ross Jones, Brees praised the Heisman Trophy winner.

“He’s got all the playmaking ability to be a great player. [There are] guys like [Manziel] in this league. Russell Wilson and his ability to run the football and extend plays outside the pocket and throw the ball down the field. Intermediate [routes], I mean he can do it all.”

Russell Wilson's Super Bowl win doesn't guarantee that Manziel will reach the same heights. Wilson is known for his preparation and dedication to the game, questions that can't be answered about 'Johnny Football' until he reaches the NFL. That said Manziel has Wilson to thank.

The idea of a six foot franchise quarterback is now much more realistic.

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