Robert Griffin III was available. So was Andrew Luck. But when Elliott Harrison at NFL.com selected his “All-Under-25” Team, he opted for neither of the top two picks in last April’s NFL Draft, but the Seahawks’ Russell Wilson as his quarterback.
Cornerback Richard Sherman and free safety Earl Thomas, a pair of All-Pro performers during the 2012 season, also made his 25-player team. The idea behind selecting the team – an All-Start-Up Team, if you will – was picking those players under 25 that you would want if starting an NFL franchise from scratch.
So Wilson over RGIII or Luck, who finished ahead of Wilson in the voting for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, shows that Harrison was paying attention all of last season – when Wilson only got better as the season progressed, and also was the last of the rookie QBs standing in the playoffs.
Harrison on Wilson: “Wilson remains a narrow choice over Luck, but you can’t go wrong with either. Robert Griffin III’s style of play causes durability qualms. Wilson’s efficiency and leadership set the tone in Seattle.”
And just how difficult was it to pick Wilson? “Russell Wilson was the choice, after much consternation and internal strife,” Harrison wrote.
Harrison on Sherman: “He has a big mouth, but certainly backs it up. Sherman led the NFL with 24 passes defensed, while only allowing QBs to complete 45.7 percent of their passes against him. Great size, to boot.”
Harrison on Thomas: “Truth be told, the Seahawks’ All-Pro safety might be a hair overrated. Yet, he makes clutch plays and has more of a track record than Minnesota’s Harrison Smith and Denver’s Rahim Moore.”
Overrated? Can that term be used to describe a player who has been a starter for each of his three seasons with the Seahawks, a Pro Bowl player the past two seasons and an All-Pro pick this season? Also, Thomas has ranked fifth, third and fifth on the team in tackles and intercepted 10 passes since being the 14th pick overall in the 2010 NFL Draft.
And what about Bobby Wagner, the Seahawks’ middle linebacker and leading tackler during his rookie season? Harrison went with the Panthers’ Luke Kuechly, who also topped Wagner for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. “Kuechly edges out Seahawks stud Bobby Wagner because of his ability against the run (still crucial, despite the NFL’s pass-happy ways). He recorded 165 tackles as Defensive Rookie of the Year.”
Wagner had 140 tackles, but also three interceptions (to two for Kuechly) and two sacks (to one for Kuechly). Just saying.
But then the Seahawks were one of only two teams to land three players on Harrison’s team. The other was the Bengals, while the Buccaneers, Cowboys, Dolphins and 49ers had two each.