Peyton Manning and Russell Wilson have the biggest age gap of any two quarterbacks starting in the Super Bowl in NFL history, and looking back at the 2012 NFL Draft, they were almost teammates instead of opponents.
Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com has absolutely killed it with his Broncos coverage this season, and he recently put out a blog post about how the Broncos had Russell Wilson in the facility for a private visit prior to the 2012 NFL Draft.
Everyone knew the Broncos were going to look to take a quarterback in that draft, the same year they had brought in Manning to be their franchise QB via free agency, but no one knew quite who it was going to be until the weeks leading up to the draft.
The Broncos had in a wide variety of quarterbacks from that draft class, including guys who were picked somewhat early. Denver was a serious player for its QB of the future, as evidenced by the drafting of 6-foot-8 Brock Osweiler, a 21-year-old signal caller out of Arizona State. Osweiler and the Broncos had several pre-draft meetings, and those who followed the pre-draft process really closely knew that he was the top guy on Denver’s list after they had sent everyone and their spouse to watch him throw before draft day.
That being said, the Broncos did their due diligence on everyone else, and were serious about potentially drafting some other guys, including Wisconsin breakout star Russell Wilson, whom I was extremely high on in the pre-draft process, and so were they.
“Wilson, we had him in, we loved the kid,” said John Elway, the man in charge of making the final call of players. “To see what he’s doing, you knew when you met him that he had the capability because of the presence that he has, that he had the ability to do what he is doing right now. He’s athletic, can make all the plays and has the right attitude.”
Wilson is an absolute stud, and if the Broncos weren’t playing against him, I’d be rooting for him. People wanted to doubt him because of his size, and regardless of the team that was put around him, Wilson wasn’t handed a starting job like Andrew Luck or RG3, and out of that same draft class he is the first one to reach the Super Bowl, just two short seasons after leaving Wisconsin.
Peyton Manning had a chance to talk with Wilson for a brief bit while he was on his visit to the Broncos’ facility.
“I met Russell Wilson … I believe it was after I signed with the Broncos, so let’s call it March or April (of 2012),” Manning said. “They were having players come in for visits before the draft. I was actually in the film room watching some tape, and someone brought Russell in. He was in town for a visit. I had a chance to shake his hand. It was an exciting time in his life, getting ready for the draft. So, I wished him luck and told him I enjoyed watching his college career.”
Wilson is certainly an impressive kid, a great young quarterback, and a guy Seahawks fans should be excited about having for their future. He’s a playmaker, he’s smart, and a great leader. He’ll be a cornerstone of that franchise for years to come.
He’s also not a bad baseball player.
The Broncos will be doing their best to shut him down on Sunday, but there was a chance just two short years ago that he could have been watching this game from the sideline as Peyton Manning’s backup.