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Russell Wilson's story colors QB picture in 2013 NFL Draft

It was the type of day that blended and blurred with all of those surrounding it. John Dorsey was just trying to keep his focus at last year's NFL Scouting Combine, a task that isn't always easy when you've been going through these same motions for more than two decades.

Dozens of NFL prospects that day sat in front of Dorsey, who was at the time serving as the Green Bay Packers' director of college scouting. But only one of those prospects left him with an unprecedented impression.

"The most impressive interview I've ever had in the last 25 years of doing this?" said Dorsey, now the general manager of the Kansas City Chiefs. "Russell Wilson. It wasn't even close. You could feel that guy as a person, how strong he was, how intellectually deep he was, how mentally tough he was, that he had the charisma to lead other players."

On the eve of another NFL draft, it makes you wonder, doesn't it? It makes you wonder -- despite every indication that this draft lacks top-end talent at the quarterback position -- if there's something we all just aren't seeing.

Wilson, who wasn't selected until the third round of last year's draft, and who would've certainly been lumped in as another questionable pick if he'd been part of this year's class, is only the latest example of a scary, scary proposition for NFL general managers: What if there's a franchise quarterback hiding in the shadows?

What if the next Tom Brady (Round 6, pick 199) is out there? Or, on a much more realistic level, the next Andy Dalton (Round 2, pick 35)? The next Colin Kaepernick (Round 2, pick 36)? The next Russell Wilson (Round 3, pick 75)?

Dorsey saw something in Wilson. Many others have expressed similar sentiments in the months since Wilson exploded onto the NFL scene with the Seattle Seahawks. But for a variety of reasons -- whether it was because of Wilson's lack of ideal height or, in the Packers' case, a lack of need -- nearly every team in the league passed on him at least once. (The Oakland Raiders and New Orleans Saints didn't join the draft fray until later in Round 3.) It must be frightening, in a year like this, to think of potentially doing the same thing again with another quarterback prospect.

Take, for instance, Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib.


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Former NFL quarterback Kurt Warner (another franchise guy, by the way, who was passed over entirely in the draft) said this week on NFL Network that he doesn't believe Nassib is worthy of a first-round grade. His film doesn't jump out, Warner said. NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock, on the other hand, has an opinion of Nassib that might sound somewhat familiar -- reminiscent of how Dorsey described his first impression of Wilson.

"He reminds me a little bit of an Andy Dalton and Kirk Cousins (Round 4, pick 102)," Mayock said. "Both of those kids got pushed up a little bit by coaches, and the coaches really like Nassib. When I watch his tape, I kind of see a cross between those two guys. And one of them (Dalton) is obviously a starting quarterback for a playoff team, and the other one (Cousins) stepped in admirably when (Robert Griffin III) went down.

"What I'm saying is, I don't think his skill set or his arm strength is Tyler Bray or Mike Glennon," Mayock continued. "But I love the kid, I love the intangibles and I think if you surround him with the right kind of talent, he can start in the NFL. And I think he's going to go early in the second round."

Could Nassib be the next guy to overcome the odds -- and a lack of consensus praise -- to become a successful starter? It's literally impossible to answer with an emphatic "yes" or a definitive "no." After all, what would the answer have been if one had asked the same question about Brady on April 14, 2000, one day before the start of that season's NFL Draft?

That's the very reason general managers have carefully evaluated this current group of quarterbacks, from well-known names like West Virginia's Geno Smith to ultimate underdogs like Murray State's Casey Brockman -- and everyone in between.

"There's talent in this group; it's just a matter of assessing where those talents are and how you can use whatever the talent is when you do draft them, and how you navigate that," Atlanta Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said. "You can take a quarterback in this draft and put him in the right situation with the right approach, and you can win a lot of games.

"The actual strength of this quarterback group? I always say: Let's see how this pans out."

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There is, of course, another major fear to consider. Perhaps last year's draft was simply that special. It is possible, after all, that when it's all said and done, each of the five quarterbacks selected before Wilson will have put together careers as successful as Wilson's. RG3, Ryan Tannehill and Andrew Luck are clearly on their way, while the verdict is still out on Brandon Weeden and Brock Osweiler. Factoring in Wilson and Cousins, it seems that the quarterback crop in 2012 just might have been extraordinarily good.

So maybe this is an off year for quarterbacks. Maybe just one or two players -- whether it's Smith or Nassib or Glennon or USC's Matt Barkley or Florida State's EJ Manuel -- will make a considerable impact in the NFL.

It's a possibility that's ridiculously difficult to assess for every general manager needing a franchise quarterback. While you don't want to miss out on the next Russell Wilson, you also don't want to allow your fears to force the issue.

That's why, as Dorsey and other general managers contemplate this complicated position -- fantasizing about finding a gem while having nightmares about doing the opposite -- they can only wish that evaluating quarterbacks were as easy as scouting ... kickers.

"Kickers either make it," Dorsey said, "or they don't."

Follow Jeff Darlington on Twitter @JeffDarlington.

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