RENTON – Pete Carroll is serious about this competition thing.
Even after signing free agent Matt Flynn to a lucrative multiyear contract to compete for the starting quarterback job with Tarvaris Jackson, the Seattle Seahawks made another significant investment at football’s most important position, selecting Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson in the third round with the No. 75 overall selection.
Wilson was one of two picks for Seattle on day two of the NFL draft. The Seahawks also grabbed Utah State linebacker Bobby Wagner in the second with the No. 47 pick.
Wagner, at 6-foot and 241 pounds, is an explosive athlete and finished with 445 career tackles in 46 starts for the Aggies.
Carroll said that Wagner, 21, already is being looked at as the starter at middle linebacker, and he’ll work with the first unit during offseason workouts while veteran Barrett Ruud gets healthy.
“He can play all three linebacker spots if we want him to,” Carroll said about Wagner. “But we’re going to put him in the middle and let him take that spot and see how he does.”
Seattle originally held the No. 43 pick but traded back four spots with Philadelphia, picking up an extra fifth-round (154th overall) and seventh-round pick (232nd).
Wilson was somewhat of a surprise choice for Seattle, becoming the first quarterback Carroll and general manager John Schneider selected since the duo took over in January 2010.
Mike Teel was the last quarterback Seattle picked, a sixth-rounder in 2009. Wilson is the highest Seahawk selected at quarterback since Rick Mirer was taken second overall in 1993.
Carroll said the Seahawks needed to take Wilson at No. 75 because at least two teams after Seattle were interested in him.
“We think more than anybody else that was alive in the draft, this guy gives you a chance to have a great player,” Carroll said. “It’s going to be really exciting to see what he can bring when all he’s ever done is be great.”
Carroll wouldn’t say how Wilson will fit into a quarterback competition that includes Flynn, Jackson and third-string quarterback Josh Portis, saying only that they want to see him on the field first with the rest of the team.
After transferring from North Carolina State to Wisconsin a month before training camp, Wilson was elected a team captain, and he set single-season school records for passing yards (3,175) and passing touchdowns (33) and an NCAA record for passer efficiency rating (191.8).
The Badgers finished 11-3 overall and lost to Oregon in the Rose Bowl.
And Wilson performed in the clutch. According to STATS LLC, Wilson’s third-down passing numbers were among the best for draft eligible quarterbacks – 57-for- 76 (75 percent) with 16 touchdowns and just one interception.
For his career, Wilson started 50 consecutive games, at one point throwing 379 consecutive passes without an interception.
Plain and simple, this guy makes plays.
Wilson is an ideal fit for Seattle’s version of the West Coast offense because of his strong arm, mobility and ability to throw on the run, plus his accuracy and good decision making.
But at 5-11 and 206 pounds, Wilson will have to answer the question of whether he can have the same type of effectiveness in the NFL.
“My height doesn’t define my skill set,” Wilson said. “I believe I have all the skills, and I believe that you have to work at it every day. I know that I’m 5-11, but I have to stay tall in the pocket. I have to make accurate throws. I have to deliver the ball on time with arc and pace and just play great football.”
Wilson experienced a whirlwind year from his junior to his senior year in college. A talented second baseman, Wilson played football and baseball at North Carolina State.
While at N.C. State, Wilson was drafted in the fourth round of the 2010 major league baseball draft by the Colorado Rockies.
One day later, Wilson’s father, Harrison Wilson III, died after a long battle with diabetes on June 9.
Wilson, 23, decided to find out if baseball was in his future, leaving North Carolina State after his junior season despite the wishes of coach Tom O’Brien, who named Mike Glennon his team’s quarterback in Wilson’s absence.
Wilson played two years in the Rockies’ organization – including a stint of short-season Single-A ball in Pasco – but ultimately decided football was his true love. After losing his starting job at North Carolina State, Wilson asked for and received his release, enrolling at Wisconsin as a walk-on for his senior season.
Wilson said he’s ready for whatever Seattle has in store.
“I think the opportunity all depends on how quickly I learn,” he said. “And obviously I’ll come in to do my best and compete at the highest level.”
Heading into the final day of the draft with rounds four through seven, beginning at 9 a.m. today, Seattle has seven selections.
“We take a lot of pride as a personnel department and working with our coaching staff that we can make some hay on the very last day,” Schneider said.