Seattle Seahawks

Why Russell Wilson has become something of a legend at NFL combine

Russell Wilson throws at the 2012 NFL combine. “We thought he had an extraordinary list of characteristics that would allow him to be a great player,” coach Pete Carroll says.
Russell Wilson throws at the 2012 NFL combine. “We thought he had an extraordinary list of characteristics that would allow him to be a great player,” coach Pete Carroll says. AP file, 2012

Russell Wilson has been busy with Ciara at the Grammys and running the bases with his singer-girlfriend’s son at empty Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.

Meanwhile, across the country in Indiana, the legacy of the Seahawks’ franchise quarterback is obvious. Just listen to the coaches and college players at the NFL scouting combine.

The name “Russell Wilson” has been a comparison of honor and admiration — and, in the case of Oregon quarterback Vernon Adams, a “blessing.”

First, it’s been because of the combine’s latest fad: assessing hand size. New 49ers coach Chip Kelly met away from the combine’s stadium site on Thursday with reporters from Northern California. Kelly went on and on about one of the hottest (and weirdest) topics at this combine: hand size.

In doing so, Kelly went on and on about Wilson.

Kelly told the reporters that the importance of hand size is “huge” for quarterbacks.

“You better have big hands,” Kelly said, according to The Sacramento Bee. “Russell Wilson is 5-10 1/2 — but he’s got 10 1/4(-inch) hands. You better have a big paw to manipulate the football.”

Then there are Wilson’s intangibles.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll spent part of Thursday at Lucas Oil Stadium reciting all the qualities he saw in Wilson at the combine four years ago. He and general manager John Schneider made Wilson Seattle’s third-round draft choice in 2012, when many people thought the quarterback was too short.

Wilson became the Seahawks’ starting quarterback from day one of his career and ended up winning more games in his first three seasons than any NFL quarterback had.

“We thought he had an extraordinary list of characteristics that would allow him to be a great player, some that no other player in the draft have, that few players ever have: the savvy, the escapability, the creativity, the great work ethic,” Carroll said. “Mix all of those things together, he’s a marvelous talent.

“He just came in a different package.”

Some of this year’s college quarterbacks — four years, two Super Bowls and a Seahawks league title removed from when Wilson was going through this draft process — revere Wilson almost as much as Carroll.

“Most definitely,” Jacoby Brissett said, his voice rising.

Brissett is like Wilson: a North Carolina State quarterback who transferred to play a final college season and is now getting overlooked beneath the top tier of QBs at the combine. He’s been seeking advice from Wilson on what awaits him.

“He has a camp there (in Raleigh, the Russell Wilson Passing Academy), and he comes through a couple times a summer,” Brissett said of NC State’s home city. “I got to work out at his camp two times and be around him for a while.

“He just said it’s a business, and you just have to work at it,” said Brissett, who transferred from Florida to NC State for last season when the Gators chose Jeff Driskel over him as their quarterback. “It’s a job that you never fully understand or fully know it, you won’t have fully have all the answers to. So you have to work.

“I mean, you watch his game, and it’s evident that’s all he does is work. He tries to perfect his craft.”

Adams also has done a camp with Wilson. The former Eastern Washington Eagle is more than flattered that some people are comparing him to the Seahawks’ $87.6 million franchise quarterback.

Adams shredded Washington for 475 passing yards and seven touchdowns in the Huskies’ 2014 home opener. He transferred to Oregon for last season, then wondrously ran around the backfield to extend plays for the Ducks, Wilson style.

Adams is 5 feet, 11 inches tall. So the Wilson comparisons keep coming.

“I think that’s a blessing,” Adams said. “I’m blessed to be compared to Russell Wilson, a great quarterback like that.

“I’ve always rooted for him. I did a quarterback camp with him,” Adams said. “Drew Brees too; he’s been getting it done for a long time.”

“I don’t think too much about being a short quarterback. You find a window. It’s about your football IQ, I think. If you’re prepared well, I think you’re going to do well. This is nothing against Tom Brady or Brock Osweiler, but I see those guys get their balls batted down a lot.

“So it’s not about being short — you get your balls batted down if you’re tall or short — it’s about getting the ball out on time, having the right pocket, stuff like that.”

Dak Prescott, from Mississippi State, is another quarterback aspiring to be like Wilson. Prescott sees the Seahawks’ star as more than just a Super Bowl winner and Seattle’s franchise cornerstone.

He sees Wilson as an NFL trailblazer.

“(Guys like) Cam Newton, Russell Wilson, they’ve all opened the door for the mobile quarterbacks,” Prescott said, extending No. 3’s shadow at this NFL combine. “Guys who are making throws from under center, in the pocket, (are) doing the things they need to within the pocket, but as well stretching the defense and using their mobility to really hurt the defense.”

Gregg Bell: @gbellseattle

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