Rookie Meter: Overshadowed Wilson shows depth of rookie class

Posted Dec. 04, 2012 @ 7:29 p.m.
Posted By Kevin Fishbain

Russell Wilson picked the wrong year to be a rookie. 

The Seahawks' signalcaller had another exceptional performance on Sunday — on the road, no less — leading Seattle on a crucial go-ahead drive in regulation and the game-winning drive in overtime, throwing the deciding score.

Wilson leads all rookie QBs with 19 passing touchdowns, and is second in passer rating (95.2), completion percentage (63.4) and rushing yards (298). The Seahawks, at 7-5, currently hold the NFC’s second wild-card spot.

The problem for Wilson, the third-round pick who was considered least likely to start from Day One of this year’s rookie class, is the player who is first in most quarterback categories: Redskins QB Robert Griffin III, the favorite to win Offensive Rookie of the Year.

It’s not just RG3. Andrew Luck, whose Colts are a surprising 8-4, is going to set the record for most passing yards by a rookie, and is only two passing touchdowns behind Wilson. Luck and Griffin also have less around them, compared to Wilson, who benefits from one of the league’s best backs (Marshawn Lynch) and a top defense.

But Wilson has conquered league powers the Packers, Patriots and Bears this season. ESPN’s Mike Sando compared Wilson's stats to Luck’s against seven similar opponents, and Wilson comes out on top. His only remaining Achilles heel was his play on the road, and he silenced doubters with his performance in Soldier Field on Sunday.

If things continue on this pace, Wilson would likely finish third in the Offensive Rookie of the Year voting, though some voters will certainly consider giving him the nod over Luck, and even Griffin, especially if Seattle winds up with the top record of the three teams.

In most years — you know, when there’s not a historically successful, off-the-charts class of quarterbacks — Wilson would be a potential front-runner for the award.

Here’s a look at the third-ranked offensive player in the last three end-of-year Rookie Meters, to help show the depth of this class that has Wilson overshadowed.

Wilson is certainly not out of the hunt for the top rookie honor, but his situation helps illustrate how successful this class has been, and not just at quarterback, as RBs Doug Martin and Alfred Morris would top Rookie Meters in most years.

When the season ends, Wilson may be the best third-best rookie in NFL history — process all that? This has been the year of Luck and RG3 since the draft, but Wilson has done everything possible to make this a three-horse race to the finish.

Now, onto the Week 13 Rookie Meter.

1. Redskins QB Robert Griffin III (first round, second overall)
Last week’s ranking: 1

In Washington’s third consecutive win, a 17-16 victory over the Giants on Monday night, RG3 completed 13-of-21 passes for 163 yards and one touchdown, and had five carries for 72 yards, including a 46-yard run. Griffin leads all rookies in completion percentage and his 104.4 passer rating is third-best in the NFL. Griffin beat Cam Newton’s record Monday night for most rushing yards by a rookie QB in a season — he has 714.

2. Colts QB Andrew Luck (1, 1)
Last week’s ranking: 2

Luck completed 24-of-54 passes for 391 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions in the Colts’ comeback win over the Lions. He threw the game-winning touchdown as time expired. Luck’s 17 passing scores are tied with Griffin for second among rookies, and he is fourth in the NFL with 3,596 passing yards.

3. Seahawks QB Russell Wilson (3, 75)
Last week’s ranking: 3

Wilson led the Seahawks to an overtime win over the Bears, throwing the game-winning touchdown in overtime. He finished the day completing 23-of-37 passes for 293 yards and two scores, good for a passer rating of 104.9. He also had nine carries for 71 yards. Wilson leads all rookie QBs with 19 passing touchdowns.

4. Buccaneers LB Lavonte David (2, 58)
Last week’s ranking: 5

David had 10 tackles, three for loss, one interception and two passes defensed in the Buccaneers’ loss to the Broncos. His 17 tackles for loss are tops among rookies and he is second to Luke Kuechly with 108 tackles.

5. Buccaneers RB Doug Martin (1, 31)
Last week’s ranking: 4

In the Buccaneers’ loss to Denver, Martin rushed the ball 18 times for 56 yards and had three catches for 42 yards. He is tied with Alfred Morris for the rookie lead with 1,106 rushing yards, though he has 32 catches for 374 yards compared to Morris’ six receptions for 42 yards.

6. Panthers LB Luke Kuechly (1, 9)
Last week’s ranking: 7

Kuechly made nine tackles, one sack (the first of his career), three tackles for loss and a QB hit in the Panthers’ loss to the Chiefs. He leads all rookies in tackles (fourth in the NFL) and is second to David with 11 TFLs.

7. Redskins RB Alfred Morris (6, 173)
Last week’s ranking: 6

Morris’ 22-carry, 124-yard night against the Giants put him in a tie with Martin for the rookie lead in rushing yards. He averaged 5.6 yards per carry and got the key first down to seal the win.

8. Browns RB Trent Richardson (1, 3)
Last week’s ranking: 8

Richardson rushed 20 times for 72 yards and one touchdown in the Browns’ win over the Raiders. He also had three catches for 23 yards on five targets. He is third among rookies in rushing yards, but leads all backs and is second among all rookies with 44 catches.

9. Seahawks MLB Bobby Wagner (2, 47)
Last week’s ranking: 10

Wagner notched 11 tackles, one sack, a tackle for loss and QB hit in the Seahawks’ win over the Bears. He is third among rookies with 101 tackles.

10. Packers CB Casey Hayward (2, 62)
Last week’s ranking: 9

Hayward had four tackles and his rookie-leading 16th pass defensed in the Packers’ win over the Vikings.

On the cusp (listed alphabetically)

Buccaneers SS Mark Barron (1, 7)
Titans LB Zach Brown (2, 52)
Bills CB Stephon Gilmore (1, 10)
Browns WR Josh Gordon (2, supplemental)
Colts WR T.Y. Hilton (3, 92)
Rams CB Janoris Jenkins (2, 39)
Patriots DE Chandler Jones (1, 21)
Vikings S Harrison Smith (1, 29)
Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill (1, 8)
Browns QB Brandon Weeden (1, 22) 

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