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June 12, 2017

Eagles Mailbag: What is Carson Wentz's ceiling?

Eagles NFL

In our weekly Eagles chat on Wednesday, there were a lot of good unanswered questions that I was not able to get to, so we'll cover them and some recent emails here in an Eagles mailbag.

Question from Bill: I am fearing that Wentz's ceiling is now that of Joe Flacco. Am I probably correct?

To begin, I guess I'd be curious why Wentz's ceiling is suddenly only that of Joe Flacco. Is it because there were reports (self included) that he didn't look sharp during OTAs?

Anyway, no, I wouldn't agree with that. When you're just talking about tools, Wentz has just about everything you want in a quarterback. From a size standpoint, he's big and sturdy. From a physical ability standpoint, he has a big arm and he can run. From a mentality standpoint, he's smart, he's tough, he works hard, and his teammates already respect him as a leader.

Last season, Wentz unexpectedly started as a rookie, threw more than 600 passes, and looked about as good as one might hope while working with the worst wide receiver corps in the NFL.

Are there areas where Wentz needs improvement? Of course. On Sunday we took a look at his 14 interceptions last season, which kind of serve as a microcosm of the things he needs to fix, most notably his penchant for sailing balls high.

In my view, Wentz has the tools to be one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. Or he could be Blake Bortles. It's just a matter of whether or not he can put it all together. But the ceiling remains quite high.

Question from Magic Long Snapper: I heard that Dillon Gordon was getting reps as an extra lineman in Pederson’s jumbo set. Think the coaches are higher on him this year, or are just experimenting with stuff?

The Eagles kept Gordon on the 53-man roster for the entirety of the season last year, so I think they were high on his potential.

This year, I still think the Eagles would have to suffer at least two injuries (and maybe even more) to their tackles for him to play in games as one of the primary offensive linemen. However, I do believe they want him to be active on game day more frequently and actually have a small role, whether that be as the extra blocker in the jumbo set, or as a fullback, or whatever.

They are certainly giving him opportunities to show what he can do.

Question from Pragmatic: Who are the Eagles’ starting 3 cornerbacks next season? I will curse a lot this season, but next year should be the big turning of the worm for this team?

The obvious best case scenario for the Eagles there would be:

  1. LCB: Sidney Jones
  2. RCB: Rasul Douglas
  3. Slot: Jalen Mills

Will Sidney Jones be the same player he was before he ruptured his Achilles? Will Rasul Douglas continue to build on what he did in spring practices and become a legitimate starter in the NFL? Will Jalen Mills get better?

All of those things still need to be answered, but at least there's optimism that they could as opposed to, say, last season, when you knew that the starting corners were on rented time and their replacements were likely not on the roster. 

Question from ErtzIsElite: Does Rasul Douglas seem like the type of corner who would cover Brandon Marshall and Sidney Jones would cover Odell Beckham?

It's not quite that simple. If NFL teams played man coverage on every down (none do) then you would see more corners trailing specific receivers all game. But yes, situationally, it would make sense for the Eagles match up their corners against receivers who mirror their traits. With Douglas' size, theoretically, he should be better equipped to handle bigger guys like Marshall or Mike Evans. With Jones' all-around game and quickness, you would prefer to have him on explosive players in the same mold as Odell Beckham or Antonio Brown.

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