Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner produced like first-round draft choices during their rookie seasons with the Seahawks, even though they were selected in the third and second rounds last April.
This fact was not lost on Don Banks during his annual redraft at SI.com, as he has Wilson going at No. 3 in the first round to the Browns and Wagner at No. 9 to the Panthers. Wilson, of course, tied the NFL rookie record by throwing 26 touchdown passes while leading the Seahawks to an 11-5 record during the regular season and then added three more TD passes as they split two playoff games. Wagner, meanwhile, led the team in tackles during the regular season as well as the postseason.
First-round play from second- and third-round picks, you have to love that.
Here’s what Banks had to say in slotting each player into the top of the first round with do-over picks:
On Wilson going to the Browns, who picked running back Trent Richardson at No. 3: “A no-brainer for the perennially quarterback-needy Browns. At least with (Andrew) Luck and (Robert) Griffin, great expectations came with the draft slot. Not so with Wilson. He sat and watched 74 other players have their names called before he heard his in the third round. Like the other two quarterbacks taken before him, Wilson led his team to the playoffs and left no doubt as to his readiness to become the face of the franchise. The Browns sure didn’t turn a corner by taking a first-round running back, no matter how stout the Richardson pick might look in the future.”
On Wagner going to the Panthers, who picked linebacker Luke Kuechly at No. 9 but lost him to the Dolphins at No. 8 in the redraft: “Having just missed out on Kuechly, Carolina could rebound by taking Wagner, who vastly out-performed his second-round draft spot in Seattle. Wagner led the Seahawks in tackles in both the regular season and the playoffs, and he could slide right into the middle linebacker slot that Kuechly manned so capably this season in Charlotte.”
Banks also sticks with Bruce Irvin as the Seahawks’ pick at No. 15, a selection some continue to view skeptically despite the rush-end leading all NFL rookies with eight sacks. Says Banks: “Not a bad draft in Seattle this season. The Seahawks’ top three picks – Irvin, Wagner and Wilson – all go in our Top 15 do-over. That will work most any year for Seattle general manager John Schneider and his personnel department.”
No do-over needed with that assessment.