Russell Wilson: Ranking the 5 QBs Selected Ahead of the Seahawks Legend in the 2012 NFL Draft

Five quarterbacks were selected ahead of Denver Broncos star Russell Wilson in the 2012 NFL Draft, and five teams — if not more — likely wish they had a redo. 

Despite signing former Green Bay Packers quarterback Matt Flynn in free agency, the Seattle Seahawks took a shot on Wilson, who started his college career at NC State before ending things at Wisconsin. Things certainly worked in Seattle’s favor, as Wilson opened his rookie season as the starter and left the Pacific Northwest as the greatest quarterback in franchise history.

What about the other five quarterbacks, ranging from Stanford’s Andrew Luck to Arizona State’s Brock Osweiler, who were selected before Wilson? On the eve of the 2012 draft’s 10th anniversary, now feels like the perfect time to rank those signal-callers. For this list, we are only ranking players based on their on-field achievements and numbers. We did not consider any off-field issues.

Based on consideration of the aforementioned prerequisites, the best players rank as follows:

5. Brandon Weeden, Cleveland Browns (22nd overall)

If anyone discovers time travel, they’d be wise to ask the Browns why they thought using the 22nd overall pick on a 28-year-old quarterback was the right move. Although the former New York Yankees prospect earned the right to be selected within the first few rounds after a stellar final two years at Oklahoma State, there was no reason why he should have gone among the first 32 picks.

Weeden lasted two seasons with the Browns, was benched midway through the 2013 campaign, and spent 2014-18 as a journeyman backup. He completed 57.9% of his passes for 6,462 yards, 31 touchdowns, and 30 interceptions in 35 career games and 25 starts. Considering he turns 39 in October and hasn’t been on an NFL roster since 2018, it feels safe to assume his career is over.

4. Brock Osweiler, Denver Broncos (57th overall)

Is Osweiler a bust? Well, that depends on whether or not second-round picks can be considered busts in the traditional sense. The final quarterback selected before Wilson in 2012, Osweiler tallied a 59.8 completion percentage, 7,418 yards, 37 touchdowns, and 31 interceptions in 49 career games and 30 starts.

Osweiler at least won a Super Bowl ring with the Broncos and pocketed over $31 million in career earnings. Not bad for someone with a misspelled tattoo.

3. Robert Griffin III, Washington Commanders (2nd overall)

At this stage in Griffin’s life, his NFL days are likely over. The 32-year-old didn’t play in 2021 and instead spent the season working for ESPN. After the Indianapolis Colts used the first overall pick on Luck, Washington traded up for Griffin, the 2011 Heisman Trophy winner, and watched him total 27 touchdowns (20 passing, seven rushing) en route to winning Offensive Rookie of the Year honors.

Then came the injuries.

Griffin famously suffered a severe knee injury in the 2012 Wild Card Round, rushed back, and was ineffective as the starter in 2013. After missing much of the 2014 campaign with injuries, Washington embraced Kirk Cousins as the starting quarterback and sent Griffin to the bench. After a brief stint with the Cleveland Browns, the 2012 Pro Bowl selection spent 2018-20 backing up Lamar Jackson on the Baltimore Ravens.

If we’ve seen the last of Griffin, he’ll retire with a 16-26 record, a 63.0 completion percentage, 9,271 passing yards, 43 passing touchdowns, and 30 interceptions. He also rushed for 1,809 yards and 10 touchdowns on 5.9 yards per carry in 56 career games. Griffin is firmly entrenched as the starting quarterback on the NFL’s All-2010s What Could Have Been? team.

2. Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins (8th overall)

At his current pace, Tannehill is well on pace to rank as the top quarterback on this list if we were to re-evaluate things in 2027 or 2032. In fact, the matchup between him and Luck is far closer than one would think at first glance.

Through his first nine healthy seasons, Tannehill tallied a 64.2 completion percentage, 30,729 passing yards, 199 touchdowns, and 102 interceptions. The former Texas A&M wide receiver also owns 1,931 rushing yards, 24 career touchdowns, and the 2019 Comeback Player of the Year Award.

So, why go with Luck over Tannehill? At least for now, it’s the dominance factor. Tannehill was mostly an inconsistent, injury-prone quarterback during his seven seasons with the Miami Dolphins and has had frustrating home playoff losses in each of his last two years in Tennessee.

1. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts (1st overall)

There’s a segment of readers who will feel compelled to choose Tannehill as the top quarterback on this list, and they wouldn’t be wrong to go that route. However, as of March 2022, Luck is the answer here. 

In 86 career games, he completed 60.8% of his passes for 23,671 yards, 171 touchdowns, and 83 interceptions. The four-time Pro Bowler rushed for 1,590 yards and 14 touchdowns in parts of six seasons. If injuries hadn’t taken their toll and forced his retirement in August 2019, Luck might still be the Colts’ starting quarterback.

Wilson is the 2012 NFL Draft’s best quarterback, and there’s no argument on that front. But of the five who went before him, Luck still holds the crown, and football fans can’t be blamed if they’re still hoping to see him make one final, albeit unlikely, comeback.

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