Big Test for a Small QB

Big Test for a Small QB

Russell Wilson has proven he can do anything a NFL quarterback can do ... except experts say he's just a couple inches short. When he and some of his former teammates perform in front of NFL scouts and executives this afternoon during UW's Pro Day, Wilson will just have another obstacle to overcome.

MADISON - When describing what he'd be bringing to a NFL team, former Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson described himself as one of the top quarterbacks in terms of throwing the football, that he gets rid of the ball quickly, accurately and with velocity.

He mentioned nothing of his 5-10? height without shoes, because it's never been an issue. If anything, it's motivation for someone telling him he can't be successful in the NFL because of his size.

"Find me a field," said Wilson, "and I'll show you what I can do."

Wilson, along with several other former teammates, will get the field at the Dave McClain Center next to Camp Randall all to themselves and be looking to raise their stock a couple points when they take part in Wisconsin's annual pro day this afternoon.

Of those expected to work out are former linemen Peter Konz, Josh Oglesby and Kevin Zeitler, wide receiver Nick Toon and safety Aaron Henry, but Wilson is one of those interesting prospects NFL scouts want to take a closer look at.

At the Indianapolis Scouting Combine, Wilson raised some eyebrows with his 4.55 40-yard dash and 4.09 seconds in the 20-yard shuttle, his 34-inch vertical, 118 inches in the broad jump and clocked 6.97 seconds in the 3-cone drill.

His 40-yard time was the second fastest among quarterbacks behind Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin, his 20-yard shuttle was three one hundredths behind LSU's Jordan Jefferson, his broad jump was fourth and his vertical jump and 3-cone drill time was fifth.

This time in front of NFL scouts, Wilson will be opening up the playbook and be throwing routes from his college playbook and from the NFL playbook to test his knowledge.

"It'll cover pretty much every single route, every single throw you could possibly throw," said Wilson, who is agent, Bus Cook, has done well representing other QBs like Jay Cutler, Brett Favre and Cam Newton. "In terms of red zone, in terms of third-down type throws, in terms of first-down, play-action type throws. I'll be doing a lot more concentrated throwing I believe."

If it was anything like his 2011 season at Wisconsin, it should be no sweat for Wilson.

Named a consensus first-team All-Big Ten selection and the Griese-Brees Quarterback of the Year in the Big Ten this past season, Wilson set the NCAA single-season record for pass efficiency (191.8) while also setting school marks for passing yards (3,175), touchdown passes (33), completions (225) and yards of total offense (3,513).

He also tied the Badgers' single-season school record with 40 touchdowns responsible for (33 passing, 6 rushing, 1 receiving) and posted UW's second-best completion percentage of all time (.728) - all while putting the Badgers on his back at times, and letting his arm (and legs) do the talking.

One of 300 players invited to participate at Lucas Oil Field, the same field where he earned the inaugural Big Ten title game's MVP honors after throwing three touchdown passes on 17-of-24 passing for 187 yards in the 42-39 victory over Michigan State, Wilson called the Indianapolis Combine ‘a great experience' in which he felt he threw the ball well, ran well and, most importantly, impressed the NFL personnel in the one-on-one interviews.

"Being a quarterback, they want you to get up to the board and draw plays," said Wilson, who said he thought he scored a 29 on the 40-plus question, 12-minute Wonderlic test. "I think that's one of my strong suits in terms of my knowledge of the game. From going to N.C. State's West Coast style offense to Wisconsin where I am under center 90 percent of the time, I had to learn the offense pretty quickly. I have a very strong knowledge of Wisconsin's offense and N.C. State's offense. Just learning that so quickly really stuck in my head. I think that was a strong suit of my throughout the interviews."

Between the NFL Combine to UW's Pro Day, Wilson has spent time in training became at the IMG Madden Football Academy in Bradenton, Fla., with Chris Weinke, a former NFL quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner at Florida State.

"He's an unbelievable quarterback coach," said Wilson of Weinke. "He has so much knowledge. There aren't too many quarterback coaches that have played the way Chris Weinke has in recent years, so I think that's an advantage that I have in terms of continuing to gain knowledge from the quarterback perspective."

Following the similar process that he went through to come from N.C. State to Wisconsin, Wilson says his faith, his family's support and that his hard work has all helped him prepare as he readies for the 2012 NFL Draft that begins Thursday, April 26 and runs through April 28.

It's a process that allowed him to graduate college in three years and wins a Big Ten title at Wisconsin. It also should lead to him getting an opportunity in the pros.

"I took a huge, huge risk that nobody in this draft has really taken," said Wilson. "I had to leave baseball, got to Wisconsin July 1, learn the whole playbook in three weeks, the guys voted me captain, which I wasn't expecting and we had a great season.

"You have to enjoy the ride. It's a process and you have to enjoy the process each and every second and really realize that you are blessed to be there. That's what I rely on."

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