Skip to main content

Redskins had their eye on Russell Wilson in 2012 NFL Draft

Despite trading up to select Robert Griffin III with the second pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, then-Redskins coach Mike Shanahan says, “Even in the third round, we were thinking about taking Russell Wilson.”


Imagine Russell Wilson doing his considerable thing that past three seasons in that other Washington.

As unnerving as just the thought of that option is after everything Wilson has done as the Seahawks' starting quarterback, it almost happened. At least that was the word from former Redskins coach Mike Shanahan during an interview with ESPN 980 in the nation's capital on Wednesday – when just about anybody who's anybody in the NFL was in Indianapolis for the start of the Scouting Combine.

Shanahan, who coached the Redskins from 2010-13 after winning two Super Bowls with the Denver Broncos, was asked about the trade with the St. Louis Rams in 2012 that led to the Redskins selecting quarterback Robert Griffin III with the second pick overall.

"We had five guys," said Shanahan, who then listed Andrew Luck, who went to the Indianapolis Colts with the top pick; Griffin, the second player selected after the Redskins traded two first-round picks and a second-rounder to move up 12 spots; Ryan Tannehill, who the Miami Dolphins selected with the eighth pick in the first round; Wilson, who went to the Seahawks in the third round with the 75th pick overall; and Kirk Cousins, who the Redskins selected in the fourth round with the 102nd pick overall.

"Even in the third round, we were thinking about taking Russell Wilson just because we thought he presented the same problems as Robert. And if you could have a guy as your first- and second-team quarterback, both had the same type of athletic ability, you would give yourself a chance.

Let that sink in a while. The Redskins had the 71st pick overall in the third round, so Wilson was theirs for the taking. Instead, they selected guard Josh LeRibeus and then drafted Cousins in the fourth round. LeRibeus has started one game and played in 12 the past three seasons, while Cousins is 2-7 as a starter.

Where would the Redskins be if they had Wilson to step in for Griffin while he was missing three games in 2013 and seven games in 2014 because of injuries? Where would the Seahawks be if they had not drafted Wilson?

As for the Redskins, likely not 3-13 in 2013 and 4-12 last season – after going 10-6 and winning the NFC East during Griffin's rookie season in 2012, when he was voted NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year but lost to Wilson and the Seahawks in a wild-card playoff game.

As for the Seahawks, it's unlikely they would be coming off back-to-back Super Bowl appearances without Wilson.

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson brings his Passing Academy to the Emerald City hosting clinics in Renton and the University of Washington campus.

The Seahawks had other options when they drafted Wilson. Tarvaris Jackson was the incumbent starter and they had signed Matt Flynn in free agency. But it's difficult to imagine either doing everything that Wilson has done in his first three seasons – starting with his 36 victories in the regular season and 6-2 record in the postseason; but also including his ability to run the zone-read to the tune of 1,877 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns, as well as complete 63.4 percent of his passes with 72 touchdown passes and 26 interceptions in the regular season.

"I can't even imagine life without him," is the way coach Pete Carroll has put it. "He's awesome."

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.