April 27, 2016
It's official. After trading up with the Cleveland Browns eight days ago, the Eagles have selected North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.
The cost for the pick wasn't cheap. First, the Eagles were able to move from pick No. 13 to pick No. 8 when they traded Byron Maxwell and Kiko Alonso to the Miami Dolphins. The move from pick No. 8 to pick No. 2 was much more costly:
In the NFL, you either have a quarterback, or you don't, and if you don't, you have no chance unless you have some kind of historic defense, which the Eagles do not. The Eagles now believe they have their guy.
This offseason, the Eagles paid a whole lot of money to a pair of quarterbacks in Sam Bradford and Chase Daniel, who have achieved very little in the NFL. The idea was that Bradford and Daniel would give the Eagles short-term stability, but Bradford's mere two-year contract with no guaranteed money in year two was a clear indicator that the Eagles had questions about him as their long-term answer at quarterback. Bradford subsequently shriveled from the challenge and demanded a trade after the Eagles made their bold move.
There's isn't much to dislike about Wentz's game. He's big and sturdy, he has a great arm, a quick release, he's surprisingly athletic and very smart. Even if you dock him for playing at a lower level in college, Wentz operated in an offense that had pro-style concepts, prompting some to believe he's more pro-ready than other quarterbacks who played in more remedial offenses at a more competitive college level.
A veteran presence at quarterback for the Eagles will ideally allow Wentz to make the jump to the NFL without immediately being thrown to the wolves. He would also be tutored by a quarterback-focused coaching staff that includes Doug Pederson, Frank Reich and John DeFilippo, as well as Daniel, who has previously played a helpful sidekick role to Drew Brees and Alex Smith.
Here is a review of Wentz's strengths and weaknesses as a player, with visuals:
Obviously, at 6'5, 237, Wentz has NFL prototype quarterback size.
Typically, when you think of 6'5 quarterbacks, you think of statues like Drew Bledsoe, or if you're an Eagles fan, an awkward lumbering runner like Nick Foles. However, Wentz is actually pretty nimble.
For example, I loved this play against Northern Iowa. He's going to be sacked, but he somehow stays on his feet and keeps running. You'll see wide receivers and running backs do this from time to time, but not often 6'5 quarterbacks:
Here he is avoiding the rush and making defenders miss in the open field. Wentz probably won't be changing his Twitter handle to @Cutondime11 anytime soon, but again, this is better shiftiness than you would expect from a guy his size.
The Bison even called some designed runs for him:
Obviously, there's a slight difference between the competition he's facing at schools like Montana, Weber State, and Northern Iowa than what he'd face going up against the Seattle Seahawks. He's not going to rattle off huge runs, but I think what his runs above show are that he is capable of making a play with his legs if he has to.
Wentz has a nice, quick but effortless release, shown here:
Wentz has a plus NFL arm. Check out this sideline throw against Montana:
That has some nice heat on it.
Wentz can also make touch throws, which can sometimes be difficult for bigger quarterbacks. He has particularly nice touch on his deep throws. On the following throw, there's actually some good and bad. The throw placement is perfect, but he made the window a little tighter than was necessary because the ball came out too late. Still, this is pretty:
Wentz's "intangibles" often showed up in games. For example, he is crafty. In the screen game, he is excellent with his eyes. He does a good job drawing the defense in one direction, and almost kind of throws no look passes to his running backs on screens in the other direction. In the NFL, giving your running back a fraction of a second extra to hit a hole can make a huge difference.
You'll also see him manipulate safeties with his eyes, leading defenders to one receiver, then throwing to another one on the other side of the field. Wentz has a great feel for that.
Wentz also ran an offense at NDSU that had many pro-style concepts. He called his offensive line protections pre-snap at the line of scrimmage, and had the ability to audible.
As for his competitiveness, there was a play against Northern Iowa in which Wentz threw a pick, and on the return, Wentz took on a block from a pass rusher, wound up on the ground, and was able to trip up the intercepting player with his feet. He really sold out his body to make the tackle.
And finally, he's smart. He scored a 40 on the Wonderlic (that's excellent) and had a 4.0-grade-point average.
Wentz often had wide open receivers to throw to, which doesn't really give you a great read on his game in full. That's not a knock on him. It's more of a question mark. Wentz shined at the Senior Bowl, where he went up against college all-stars for a week of practices, but certainly, there's a difference between playing in real games at the Division I-AA level and the SEC.
For his college career, Wentz attempted only 612 passes. By comparison, No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff attempted at least 500 passes in each of the last three seasons.
His accuracy isn't bad. It's just kind of... meh. You'll often see Wentz throwing behind his receivers and he'll miss open receivers when he doesn't set his feet. For example:
Certainly, Wentz's strengths outweigh his weaknesses, and his physical tools were clearly very appealing to a very quarterback-focused coaching staff.
So welcome to Philadelphia, Carson Wentz. Your level of performance will only determine the fate of a whole lot of jobs in the Eagles' front office, as well as the general happiness of the fifth-most populous city in America.
No big deal.