Following his junior year, Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson was considered by some to be the No. 1 draft pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. Then, he played his senior year. Instead of attending the NFL draft as most
elite college players do, he found himself taking the call from the Oakland Raiders while taking pictures with a fan at the Greenwood Walmart in Arkansas.
What happened? Well, for one, he was bored waiting at his parents’ house as two days of NFL Drafting had passed without hearing his name called. But what happened his senior year?
Other than the interceptions column, the two seasons are relatively identical. Completion percentages are within about a point, and his passing yard totals are less than 500 yards apart. In fact, he threw for more yards during his senior year (2012) than he did in 2011. But, an extra interception every couple of games can add up, and given the potential they have to influence a game’s momentum, they could ultimately doom the team for a couple of games. Emphasis here on could.
This does lead-in to the next point, which is looking at Wilson’s two years from a win-loss perspective. As the quarterback of the team, he is the leader and face of the team. The natural tendency is to look at the score of a game and to first think about how the QB did in the game. Before even glancing at the stat sheet, you think about the points allowed and use it to assess how the defense did as a whole, and you think about the points scored and think about the role the quarterback played.
With that aside, unlike Wilson’s stat sheet, the two seasons were drastically different for the Razorbacks. The quarterback’s junior year, Arkansas won eight games by double digits. The next year? They won half that many games, total.
There are a multitude of factors at play here. It really is unfair to place it all on the quarterback, but this does throw up huge red flags. Did he lose his locker room? After the Alabama loss his senior year, he mentioned that players quit. If one considers himself the leader of a team, then a lot of the that blame should fall on him. Additionally, in both years, he struggled against the elite teams, Alabama and LSU. It’s fair to say that the NFL has more athletic and more sophisticated defenses.
For a number one draft pick, it is perfectly acceptable to be asking this many questions about the future of the franchise. Luckily for the Raiders, this was a very calculated, risk-free move in the fourth round. Besides, his main competition will be Matt Flynn, a guy who only has two more NFL starts than he does. And, last year, that same quarterback lost his job to an overlooked quarterback named Wilson.