Badger Bits: Russell Wilson is too short, too short, too damn short

Russell Wilson has demonstrated that he has all the tools to be an NFL caliber quarterback. Questions about his height will likely knock him into the late rounds of the 2012 NFL Draft, however.

ESPN aired Russell Wilson's QB Camp episode with Jon Gruden last night. As usual with these things Gruden did most of the talking. Wilson owns the sleepiest pair of eyes this side of Droopy Dog, but was quick with the right answer and seemed to be listening intently. The former Bucs' coach spent 30 minutes praising Wilson for his ability to read defenses, pick up a new offense on the fly and be a leader in the huddle. He offered very little in the way of criticism, except an emphatic mock regurgitation of every draft scouting report in existence: "He's too short, he's too short, he's too damn short."

Something similar played out on NFL Live over the weekend. Trey Wingo and Mark Schlereth praised Wilson for all of the same reasons Gruden did. Then they addressed his height. Wingo had Schlereth get down in a mock lineman stance to point out that Wilson should have plenty of room to see over 6'6 behemoths assuming they are doing their job right and staying low. The camera then panned over to Todd McShay who with zero mirth said that Wilson was a 5th rounder on his board because height matters and that's that.

It's true that starting quarterbacks tend to be on the taller end of things. McShay pointed out that only three quarterbacks are listed at 6'0 or shorter in the NFL.* Two of them are Michael Vick and Drew Brees, however, two players who are among the league's elite. Besides, "short QBs don't exist" is flawed reasoning. Yes, more tall quarterbacks demonstrate next-level ability. Wilson has demonstrated that same ability despite being smaller, however, and shouldn't be discounted because he happens to be a rare specimen.

After the show, Gruden gave his final assessment:

"I think Russell Wilson will be one of the steals of this draft," Gruden said. "He's going to be overlooked, I think, by some (teams) because of his height. But I do think at end of the day, when you check back on this draft 10 years later, he's going to have had a very good career."

How this isn't common knowledge, and how Ryan Tannehill became a bonafide Top 10 prospect, I'm still not quite sure. I'm willing to admit some amount of homerism, but man, Wilson seems like just the type of player who will make some smart GM very happy down the road.

*McShay didn't mention Troy Smith, who is listed at 6'0 and playing backup for the Steelers. Haven't done the research to see who else is out there.

Thursday's Links:

More comments from a conference call with Gruden:
"The only issue is his height, and we use Drew Brees (6-0) as the classic example," Gruden said. "If you just look at one inch or an inch and a half, that's the height difference in Russell Wilson and Drew Brees. But he's got a lot of questions and answers. There are not a lot of quarterbacks under six feet that are playing in the NFL today or who have played the game, period. He's going to have to answer those questions. Hopefully the right guy gives him an opportunity and he takes advantage of it, because when you watch the tape, every film you watch at N.C. State or Wisconsin, the results are very similar. It's successful, solid, game-day competitive. It's exciting. I wish him the best. He's a special kid. I just hope he gets with the right guy."
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