Jon Gruden on Russell Wilson: “He had the ‘it’ factor unlike any quarterback I’ve met”

Jon Gruden did a pre-draft conference call today in his role as an analyst for ESPN. But the former NFL coach and QB guru also was asked about a certain quarterback who was selected in last year’s draft: Russell Wilson.

What Gruden had to say about the Seahawks’ QB definitely is worth repeating.

Q: Last year when Russell Wilson was drafted by the Seahawks, your comments were pretty dead on. You said at the time, if they give this guy a chance, he’ll win the starting job. I wonder what a lot of people miss in Russell Wilson, if they missed it at all last year, and the fact that he fell to the third round and it reshaped the thinking of some of these guys?

Gruden: “I think last year Russell Wilson had the ‘it’ factor unlike any quarterback I’ve met. His intangibles weren’t excellent; they were off-the-chart excellent. He did it at two colleges within a year. I’ve never seen a man do what he did in NCAA football: Take the Wolfpack to a bowl game, transfer schools, become a team captain at another school and take his team to the Rose Bowl. Had it not been for three last‑second plays, they might have won the national title. Seventy-one percent completion percentage, mobility. I just thought he had it all. The thing he lacked was size. The only thing he needed was an opportunity. But I’m a guy, I guess, that’s made a living with middle-round draft choices. So I was a little bit partial to Russell Wilson. I’m very happy for him and his success.”

Q. Is there a Russell Wilson out there or anybody that compares in this year’s class?

Gruden: I don’t know if there’s another Russell Wilson. I think what he did as a rookie is unprecedented, really, for a third‑round draft choice. But as I said earlier, I really like this kid out of Syracuse. I like Ryan Nassib because he’s an athletic kid. He’s functioned in a couple of different offenses. What they did this year at Syracuse, changing their offense two weeks before the regular season, says a lot about this kid’s ability to adapt. … They were 2‑4 trailing Stony Brook College at halftime, and I thought he was really good at the end of games and helped Syracuse go to a bowl game. I just like his body of work at Syracuse.”

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