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How Close Were the Packers to Drafting Russell Wilson?

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How Close Were the Packers to Drafting Russell Wilson?

As the 2013 NFL draft draws near, current Kansas City Chiefs general manager John Dorsey continues his search of a prospect worthy of selection at No. 1 overall.

While Dorsey may not see a quarterback in that mold in this year's draft, the former personnel executive for the Green Bay Packers certainly isn't hiding his affinity for Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson from a year ago.

“The most impressive interview I’ve ever had in the last 25 years of doing this? Russell Wilson,” Dorsey told Adam Teicher of the Kansas City Star. “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. I always try to look at kids like I’m in the locker room and I’m a teammate. It was easy to see this guy leading a team."

The Seahawks eventually drafted Wilson at No. 75 overall in the third round. He went on to start 16 games for Seattle, throwing for 3,118 yards, 26 touchdowns and a 100.0 passer rating. The Seahawks won 11 regular-season games overall, beat the Washington Redskins in the Wild Card round and then nearly advanced to the NFC Championship Game a week later.

Along with Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, Wilson represented one part of the greatest trio of rookie quarterbacking in the history of the NFL.

How close were the Packers to throwing a wrench into that eventual reality?

According to Albert Breer of NFL Network, the Seahawks pulled the trigger on Wilson with knowledge that both the Packers and Philadelphia Eagles had legitimate interest.

Thirteen picks after Wilson went to Seattle, Philadelphia took Arizona quarterback Nick Foles at No. 88 overall. The Packers did not possess a third-round pick after moving up to take Vanderbilt cornerback Casey Hayward at the end of the second round. Green Bay sent both their third-rounder (90th overall) and fifth-rounder (163) to New England for the 62nd overall pick, which was spent on Hayward.

After taking Hayward at No. 62, the Packers wouldn't pick again until the 132nd slot—or 57 selections after Wilson went off the board to Seattle.

To get Wilson, the Packers likely would have had to make another significant trade up, or passed on getting Hayward and maneuvered ahead of Seattle in the third round. It remains unlikely either scenario was discussed heavily, and it's possible such an idea never even entered the war room discussion.

Eventually, the Packers filled a need at quarterback by taking B.J. Coleman in the seventh round, 168 picks after Wilson in the third. Only three quarterbacks—Foles, Kirk Cousins (4.102) and Ryan Lindley (6.185)—went between Wilson and Coleman last April.

Coleman spent the entire 2012 season on the Packers practice squad, while Graham Harrell won the No. 2 job and backed up Aaron Rodgers.

Wilson might not have been close to upsetting that hierarchy of quarterbacks in Green Bay last season, but Dorsey's comments made it clear that Wilson had a supporter in the Packers' draft prep last April.

Had the chips fallen differently, maybe Wilson would be entering his second season of backing up Rodgers. Instead, he'll approach 2013 as a rising quarterback of one of the NFC's best teams.

Zach Kruse is a 24-year-old sports writer who contributes to Cheesehead TV, Bleacher Report and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He also covers prep sports for the Dunn Co. News. You can reach him on Twitter @zachkruse2 or by email at zachkruse2@gmail.com.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (4) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

sparkyo's picture

Wilson was a prize, but I am glad we ended up with Casey Hayward.

Stroh's picture

Apparently, not very close to drafting Wilson. I don't doubt that they had legit interest in him, but they didnt take him at 62 where they got Hayward and then didn't have a pick till the compensatory picks at the end of the 4th. That means they would have had to use their 5th round pick to move up from bottom of 5 to mid 3rd. No way to do that w/o using players on the roster. Just don't see anyway they could have gotten that high w/o giving up a starter.

tundravision's picture

Could probably make a case for almost drafting a lot of players. All depends on what Thompson has on his draft board.

Nononsense's picture

All I know is I was really high on Wilson after his year with the Badgers and I said before the draft that he was easily the 3rd best QB behind Luck and Griffin.

His height is the only thing that made him tumble down the draft Board. What a steal it was for Seattle to get him in the 3rd round. As soon as he was drafted, I knew Matt Flynn had no shot to win a QB competition with Wilson on board.

Like Stroh said though, im happy with Casey Hayward. Its a bonus that GB landed another real good player at the expense of the Cheatriots though.

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