It’s that time of year again. The Shrine Bowl has come and gone and we are now in the week of Senior Bowl practices, leading up to the Senior Bowl game. In the coming months we will see pro days, combines, and personal workouts, all leading up to the 2012 NFL Draft. One player that I see having his value hurt because of a previous prospect is Russell Wilson. The former Wisconsin signal caller by way of NC State and professional baseball may scare off scouts due to Pat White’s quick departure from the NFL.
The Miami Dolphins used a second round pick to select White, the former West Virginia Mountaineer. White couldn’t cut it as a NFL quarterback or running Miami’s wildcat package. After Miami released him, no other team put in a claim to pick him up and he went to his fallback plan of playing professional baseball less than a week later.
While Russell Wilson is a much more polished passer than White, there has to be some concern about the fact that he can so easily go back to pro baseball if life in the NFL gets too hard. NFL draft picks are a prized commodity, especially one as high as the second rounder that was used on Pat White. These selections are looked upon to step up in a starting role in the NFL or at least play an integral part in the team’s plans, not to disappear and hit doubles off the wall in some minor league stadium.
Other concerns in both prospects was/is their height. White stood 6’0 and weighed 205, while Wilson is a slightly smaller 5’11 191. Both players were extremely mobile and effective college quarterbacks, also projected to be able to play baseball at the next level, but their comparisons end there. While Wilson tended to run before he needed to on many occasions, he wasn’t a run first quarterback like White. The majority of White’s passes came out of the pocket and never looked comfortable in the pocket. Russell doesn’t have a problem setting his feet firm, standing in the pocket, and driving a pass downfield. That’s not to say that he doesn’t run a ton of play action and bootlegs, but I don’t hold that against him as one would be a fool not to take advantage of his athleticism. Wilson’s form is clearly more ideal than White as Pat always seemed to sling the ball where Wilson’s throw is more fluid and effortless.
I’m not saying that Pat White didn’t have heart or that he didn’t truly want to play in the NFL. What I’m saying is that when you have another outlet or venue where you can still make income playing a professional sport, I don’t know if scouts and GM’s will truly believe that you are ready to leave it all out of the field. This is especially true when you’re 6 feet or under and the other sports don’t require you to run from 300 plus pound men trying to drive you into the dirt.
Wilson will already have to overcome the fact that he doesn’t measure up to the typical NFL quarterback. Now compound that problem with the fact that NFL front offices will have to be sold that he is completely dedicated to making it in the NFL and that baseball isn’t an option. GM’s will want to know that if he struggles and has to sit on the practice squad for three years or be buried on a depth chart, that he won’t get frustrated and take off for the greener grass on the other side of the outfield fence.
* White signed a minor league contract with the Royals during the 2010 season. After appearing in the Fall instructional league, White retired from baseball.
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Jayson Braddock is an NFL Scout / NFL Writer & On-Air Personality. Jayson is also a football insider for the Dylan Gwinn show on 790 AM in Houston, TX - Listeners NOT in the Houston metropolitan area can hear Jayson on iheart radio or sports790.com. You can also catch Jayson on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio with Scott Engel and the morning crew every Thursday at 10:30am ET. You may email Jayson directly @ firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @JaysonBraddock