Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson finished third in the NFL offensive rookie of the year voting and linebacker Bobby Wagner was second among defensive rookies. In voting among media members from NFL cities announced Saturday night at an “NFL Honors” gala in New Orleans, Wilson’s 10 votes trailed winner Robert Griffin III of Washington (28 votes) and Indianapolis QB Andrew Luck (11). Wagner was behind Carolina LB Luke Kuechly, 28-11.
Griffin and Luck were the first and second picks in April’s draft, while Wilson lasted until the third round. All three were the key ingredients in turning around franchises with losing records the previous year.
Wilson did win the Pepsi Max rookie of the year award, based on fan voting online.
In the regular season, Wilson, who played a year at Wisconsin and three at North Carolina State, tied Peyton Manning’s rookie record for passing touchdowns with 26, and threw for 3,118 yards with a 64.1 completion percentage as the Seahawks went 11-5 and made it to the second round of the playoffs.
Despite his lack of prototypical QB height (5-foot-11), he was named Seattle’s starter in August, beating out Matt Flynn for the job after Flynn was signed as one of the offseason’s biggest free agents.
Wilson’s breakout game was Dec. 2 when he led the Seahawks over the Bears in overtime in Chicago, putting together a 90-yard touchdown drive in the fourth quarter then driving 87 yards to the end zone in the extra period.
He led the Seahawks on a three-game blitz in which they won by a combined score of 150-30, including 42-13 over San Francisco, which plays Baltimore Sunday in the Super Bowl. Voting was completed at the end of the regular season, so Wilson’s stellar play against Washington and Atlanta was no factor.
Wagner, a second-round pick from Utah State, became the starter at middle linebacker, calling defensive signals, and excelled, leading the Seahawks in tackles.
Kuechly, taken ninth in the first round from Boston College, led the NFL in tackles (164) and started all 16 games for a Panthers defense that had trouble stopping teams early in the season but grew stout down the stretch. Kuechly’s play directly contributed to the Panthers winning their final four games.
“Well, it’s a truly a blessing to be up here and be able to stand, first and foremost,” Griffin said when accepting the award as he continues to recover from knee surgery. “It seems like league’s in good hands with the young quarterbacks.”