Passing on Wilson proved fateful
Adam Schefter [ARCHIVE]
January 4, 2013
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Seattle is going through playoff preparations, while Buffalo, Jacksonville and Kansas City are going through résumés in part because of one simple third-round draft pick.

With the 69th pick in last April's draft, Buffalo selected NC State wide receiver T.J. Graham.

With the very next pick, the Jaguars selected California punter Bryan Anger.

Four picks later, Kansas City selected Oklahoma tackle Donald Stephenson.

And with the very next pick, the 75th overall selection, Seattle selected Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson.

Now Wilson is leading Seattle into the wild-card round against the Redskins after a season in which he challenged Indianapolis' Andrew Luck and Washington's Robert Griffin III for the offensive rookie of the year. And Buffalo, Jacksonville and Kansas City are looking for either new head coaches or new general managers.

There are so many hard-to-grasp elements about the six-pick sequence that help define those teams' 2012 seasons.

Given the quarterback questions they had not just now but then, how could Buffalo, Jacksonville and Kansas City each pass on a quarterback who would have been a top-10 pick if he were two inches taller?

And more important, how could Seattle simply sit there knowing it wanted Wilson, but that three teams picking in front of it each had such a need at the position?

It's easy to ask these questions now, almost nine months later, but it was not hard to ask them then, either. Maybe Graham, Anger and Stephenson will turn out to be Pro Bowl players. Maybe Graham will give Buffalo more big plays, Anger will keep winning the field-position battle for Jacksonville, and Stephenson can continue to open holes and protect quarterbacks. But in this league, quarterbacks are currency. And now, thanks to their vision and other teams' lack of it, the Seahawks are loaded.

Seattle lucked out, just as it did in the Monday night game against Green Bay that helped propel these Seahawks into the playoffs. Those other teams made the wrong call for them and the right call for Seattle. Wilson fell to Seattle, and the Seahawks didn't waste any time turning in the pick. Wilson was their man.

And it is just one more affirmation of what we've known all along but get reminded of periodically. When the draft rolls around this April, keep in mind how significant each pick can be. Not to overstate it, but we saw it last April as we will see it again in future Aprils. One pick can make franchises or cost jobs.

On to this week's 10 Spot:

Bracing for change: Ray Lewis' decision to retire is just the start of the changes that are about to take place in Baltimore. The Ravens now are scheduled to be only $5 million over next season's salary cap, but that doesn't include any deal with free-agent-to-be quarterback Joe Flacco. If the Ravens have to use the quarterback franchise tag on Flacco for the projected $14.6 million, that would put them nearly $20 million over the salary cap.

Lewis' retirement will save Baltimore $3.8 million against the cap. Cutting wide receivers Anquan Boldin and Jacoby Jones would free up an additional $9 million. But then the Ravens still have to deal with their unsigned players such as safety Ed Reed, cornerback Cary Williams and linebackers Paul Kruger and Dannell Ellerbe. So not everyone can stay.

Sunday marks what is expected to be the final home game for Lewis, the greatest defensive player many ever saw play. But those are just the start of the changes that are coming to Baltimore. The Ravens are going to lose some more good football players.

Big stage for rookie QBs: The story of this season and the postseason is the sudden ascension of rookie quarterbacks. This will mark the first time in NFL history that three rookie quarterbacks will start a postseason NFL game in the same season.

But it's not just rookies -- it's all young quarterbacks. Add Christian Ponder, Andy Dalton and Colin Kaepernick to Luck, Griffin III and Wilson, and six of the 12 starting quarterbacks are in either their first or second seasons. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this is the most first- and second-year starting quarterbacks in a single postseason since the merger. The last time this many young quarterbacks were involved in the postseason was in 2000, when Donovan McNabb, Daunte Culpepper, Aaron Brooks and Shaun King helped lead their teams to the playoffs.

Don't forget the RBs: So much deserved attention has been heaped on the rookie quarterbacks that the rookie running backs have been overshadowed. Yet Redskins rookie running back Alfred Morris finished second in the NFL this season in rushing with 1,613 yards, the third-most rushing yards by a rookie in NFL history. Also, Colts rookie running back Vick Ballard led Indianapolis in rushing with 814 yards. And the Redskins and Colts became the first two teams to reach the playoffs with rookies leading them in rushing and passing yards since the 1943 Giants. Pretty impressive.

Oddsmaker's view: As the postseason dance gets under way, Kevin Bradley, the sports book manager at, has established odds for each of the 12 playoff teams to win the Super Bowl. Not surprisingly, the Denver Broncos, the No. 1 seed in the AFC, are the favorite at 11-4, followed by the Patriots at 4-1, the 49ers at 6-1, the Falcons at 7-1, the Packers at 8-1 and the Seahawks at 11-1.

Earlier this season, Bradley established the Texans as the favorite to win the Super Bowl, but right now, Houston's odds have fallen off to 15-1. Bradley doesn't put much credence in the other playoff teams, either. He lists the Redskins at 18-1, the Ravens at 22-1, the Vikings at 40-1, and the Bengals and Colts at 45-1.

Passing is a must: Here's what the 12-team postseason playing field doesn't have to worry about: mounting a strong rushing attack or boasting a 1,000-yard rusher. Each of the past four Super Bowl champions has not had a 1,000-yard rusher that season, and most have not had a particularly high rushing ranking.

Last season's world-champion Giants had the league's 32nd-ranked rushing attack, the 2010 world-champion Packers ranked 24th in rushing, the 2009 world-champion Saints ranked sixth in rushing, and the 2008 world-champion Steelers ranked 23rd in rushing.

Meanwhile, each of the past three Super Bowl champions has had a top-five passing offense. Each team in this postseason dance knows what it has to do to win. It has to be able to throw the football.

Running on fumes? Even with the emphasis on passing, there can be no denying the importance in Minnesota of running. What Adrian Peterson has done this season is one of the great physical feats in football history. This season, Peterson has rushed for 409 yards against the Packers, tied for the fourth-most ever by any player against any...
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