Russell Wilson has had a tremendous start to his NFL Career, putting together a résumé packed with achievements:» Super Bowl XLVIII champion
» 24-8 regular-season record, 4-1 in the playoffs
» 52 career touchdown passes against 19 interceptions
» Fourth-highest passer rating of any QB in his first two seasons
» Two-time Pro Bowl selection
His NFL accomplishments are undoubtedly impressive, but with just two full seasons under his belt, has Wilson shown enough to be considered a top-five quarterback?
I'd take at least 12 NFL quarterbacks over WilsonI do not consider Russell Wilson a Top-10 quarterback, let alone one who belongs in the top five. The Seahawks win because they have one of the NFL's best defenses and an outstanding running back in Marshawn Lynch. Wilson -- who I think is a good, but not elite, passer -- operates in an offense that takes a lot of pressure off him, meaning the Seahawks don't have to rely upon his arm to win games.
When evaluating players you always ask yourself how would that player perform with another team that is better than his. For example, if you put Andrew Luck in Seattle would his numbers improve? I don't have any doubt they would. In no particular order, I would rank these AFC signal-callers ahead of Wilson: Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger, Andrew Luck, Tom Brady and, possibly, Joe Flacco. And the NFC quarterbacks I would rank ahead of him: Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Eli Manning (despite his poor 2013 season), Matt Ryan, Matthew Stafford, Tony Romo and Nick Foles.
Wilson's not there yet, but his time could still comeRussell Wilson's accomplishments over two seasons are exceptional, but I'm not ready to call him a top-five passer. Not yet.
By all accounts, the "Top 100" is a nebulous concoction of recent accomplishments and career accolades. From where we stand today, though, my top five would include Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Drew Brees and one fellow too often overlooked: Ben Roethlisberger. Each of these signal-callers have single-handedly pulled their teams into January play. Wilson hasn't been asked to carry Seattle's ultra-deep roster -- not the same way -- and I'd still take Andrew Luck over Russell if I were starting a team today.
The top five, though, is stocked with grey-whiskered veterans not far from the end. Wilson will enter the conversation soon enough.
He's a proven winner, but isn't eliteI'm a huge Russell Wilson fan. He's a great player and a Super Bowl winner. But he's not a top-five quarterback.
He's not on par with Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady or Drew Brees. Ben Roethlisberger is still playing at a high level. And Andrew Luck, not Wilson, is the best young quarterback in the game. If I'm making a top quarterback list, I'd take Colin Kaepernick and his explosiveness, the rejuvenated Philip Rivers, and the underappreciated Tony Romo over Wilson.
Don't get me wrong, I'd take Wilson as the quarterback of my team. But is he among the elite at the position? No way. Not yet.
Wilson fits in the same tier as Cam, Kap and RGIIIWilson is in the eight to 10 range among quarterbacks. The first four are a given, with Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees playing at another level over the past half-decade. Ben Roethlisberger is next on the list, as he's a multi-Super Bowl winner in his prime with a much longer track record of success. Andrew Luck is asked to do a lot more than Wilson, who -- like a young Big Ben -- is coddled by his defense and running game. Philip Rivers and Matt Ryan are in the same category -- better passers with more responsibility in a wide-open offense and a better understanding of how to take apart a defense. Wilson is in the next tier with Cam Newton, Colin Kaepernick and perhaps a healthy Robert Griffin III as the wave of the future.
Too soon to crown the young running QBsRussell Wilson and the other young running QBs have transformed and expanded the way we view the position, but it's too soon to rank any of them alongside Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger and Drew Brees.
That sentiment isn't based on some curmudgeonly view about what NFL quarterbacks should look or play like. Matter of fact, this 'Reality Shek' video shows my inclination FOR the 21st-century version of the position.
Rather, the younger QBs -- Wilson, Andrew Luck, Cam Newton, et al -- are all still on their rookie contracts, which means there's more loot available to their teams to address other needs. Those guys will all soon benefit from lucrative second deals -- presumably for somewhere in the range of $20 million per season -- but their teams will likely suffer a hit to their overall depth. Let's call it "The Flacco Conundrum": Joe Flacco was good enough to take a deep 2012 Ravens squad to glory when he was still on his rookie contract, but the team was a mediocre 8-8 after Flacco signed his $120.6 million deal. That's not to beat up on Flacco: You have to pay your franchise QB if he delivers playoff wins, but, the question is, can he keep doing it when he comprises such an inordinate percentage of the budget?
Whether any or all of the passers drafted in 2011 and '12 can keep their teams in the mix for the Lombardi Trophy won't really be known 'til they get into those contracts and are asked to carry even more of the load. Meantime, let's just all agree Matt Ryan probably can't.
The "Top 100 Players of 2014" continues Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET on NFL Network, with the reveal of players ranked Nos. 11-20.