Our morning writing session here on this fine Monday presents the perfect juxtaposition to show how difficult it can be to separate fact and fiction in May, a time when various NFL players are on various practice fields in shorts.
We can gawk and swoon over the electric potential of a rookie wide receiver based mostly on one catch, as we just did with DeAndre Hopkins. Is that irrational and knee-jerky? Sure, maybe. But the catch was stupid good. That cannot be debated, even if it was against fellow rookie defenders. It was made by a player who was deemed worthy of a first-round pick because the Houston Texans widely believe he’s capable of making such catches regularly. Seeing that skill demonstrated already is exciting and promising.
Tyler Wilson, meanwhile, was a fourth-round pick, and alongside him on the Raiders depth chart is a quarterback who came at the cost of two picks.
The franchise in question here just sent those two draft picks to Seattle in a trade to acquire Matt Flynn. And two summers ago the Raiders selected Terrelle Pryor with a third-round pick in the supplemental draft.
Yet here we are having a legitimate discussion about Wilson surpassing both of them throughout the summer to start a game this fall, which brings us back to the difficult game of trudging through the sewage of fiction in May to find the truth nugget.
Steve Corkran of the Contra Costa Times watched the Raiders rookie minicamp over the weekend, and while doing so he observed a rookie quarterback who didn’t look like a rookie at all. Two central questions arise: how do we determine if Wilson’s overall play really was that good during a camp which featured only his fellow rookies? And if it really was that good, then what does merely having this discussion say about Pryor and Flynn? Are they really that bad?
I’d like to answer the first question. But right now, all we can do is shrug while reading the observations from Corkran. For the record, here they are:
Wilson showed off a strong arm, placing balls right on target time and again, be it swing passes, throws over the middle or well downfield.
“Obviously, picking up a new system, there’s a little bit of rust there,” Raiders coach Dennis Allen said of Wilson. “But throwing the ball, he’s done a nice job. I don’t have any question about his arm strength and his accuracy.”
It’s not a stretch to envision Wilson playing well enough to surge past presumptive starter Matt Flynn and third-year player Terrelle Pryor at some point, even if he downplays the situation.
Now, what does Wilson’s possible rise say about Pryor and Flynn? A lot even after rookie camp, and none of it is good.
Scoff at rookie camp and OTAs as much as you’d like, but a year ago at Flynn’s former place of employment we didn’t think Russell Wilson had a legitimate chance to start. Yet there he was in the fall, running and dodging, and takin’ names.
Here’s a little more reality: the advantage Flynn and Pryor have lies in their greater time on a practice field. While that sounds nice and all, it’s a feeble head start at best, and it meant little for Flynn when he lost the Seattle job. Combined, Flynn and Pryor have started only three NFL regular-season games.
Tyler Wilson starting may seem like a reach now, and so it should. That’s the feeling you have immediately following rookie camps. But please limit your level of shock if a rookie quarterback beats out two other guys who have only slightly more starting experience.