By Justin Lester
Looking back at the 2012 NFL Draft, it is easy to see why the Seahawks were 31 seconds away from playing in the NFC Championship Game this season.
Most experts originally felt it was a stretch when Seattle took quarterback Russell Wilson with its third round pick. As a rookie Wilson proved he was worthy of being selected 75th overall, and much more.
When Sports Illustrated’s Don Banks did his annual re-draft, a reconstruction of the first round based on each rookie’s performance this year, he had Wilson going to the Cleveland Browns as the 3rd overall pick in the first round. Banks essentially rated Wilson as the third best rookie in the NFL this season behind only Andrew Luck of the Colts and Robert Griffin III of Washington.
Wilson was not the only Seahawk to impress in his first year in the league, according to Banks. He also had linebacker Bobby Wagner at No. 9 overall and defensive end Bruce Irvin going to Seattle at No. 15, just as he did in the real draft last April.
Acquiring three of the best 15 players available is an extreme rarity, so the Seahawks’ front office must have known what it was doing.
“I’ve done the redraft eight or nine years. I don’t remember anything like that,” Banks told 710 ESPN Seattle’s Go 2 Guy Friday. “You look back, and you realize they (Seahawks) were kind of ahead of the curve. The top three picks all hit, not just a little, but hit dramatically big in Seattle this year.”
Wilson’s performance as a rookie solidified the Seahawks’ draft class as the best in the league. Banks also said he would rather have Wilson than Colin Kaepernick of the 49ers as his quarterback, and gave Seattle a slight advantage over San Francisco in the division next season.