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December 11, 2015

A look ahead to the 2016 quarterback class: Carson Wentz edition

Eagles NFL
121115CarsonWentz Tim Sharp/AP

What if the Rams take Carson Wentz -- not Jared Goff -- with the No. 1 pick?

No matter what happens the rest of this season, or whether the Eagles re-sign Sam Bradford this offseason, one thing feels very clear -- The Eagles need to find a way to get a quarterback in the 2016 NFL Draft. 

This upcoming draft does not appear to have a bona fide consensus No. 1-overall pick-type like Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota a year ago, but may have a good amount of depth in rounds 1, 2, 3 and beyond.

During the offseason and continuing into the regular season, we started taking a look at some of the quarterbacks eligible to enter the 2016 NFL Draft. In case you missed those, you can find them here: 

• Michigan State's Connor Cook
• Ohio State's Cardale Jones
• USC's Cody Kessler
• Cal's Jared Goff
• Cincinnati's Gunner Kiel
• Mississippi State's Dak Prescott
• Memphis' Paxton Lynch
• Penn State's Christian Hackenberg
• Western Kentucky's Brandon Doughty

Today we'll take a look at a small school quarterback who some feel is good enough to slip into the first round, North Dakota State's Carson Wentz.

But first, before we get to Wentz as a player, here is the Eagles' draft history since Chip Kelly joined the team in 2013. Tell me what all of the Eagles' draft picks during that time have in common:

Year Round Overall Player School 
 201520 Nelson Agholor USC 
 201547 Eric Rowe Utah 
 201584 Jordan Hicks Texas 
 2015191 JaCorey Shepherd Kansas 
 2015196 Randall Evans Kansas State 
 2015237 Brian Mihalik Boston College 
 201426 Marcus Smith Louisville 
 201442 Jordan Matthews Vanderbilt 
 201486 Josh Huff Oregon 
 2014101 Jaylen Watkins Florida 
 2014141 Taylor Hart Oregon 
 2014162 Ed Reynolds Stanford 
 2014224 Beau Allen Wisconsin 
 2013Lane Johnson Oklahoma 
 201335 Zach Ertz Stanford 
 201367 Bennie Logan LSU 
 201398 Matt Barkley USC 
 2013136 Earl Wolff NC State 
 2013212 Joe Kruger Utah 
 2013218 Jordan Poyer Oregon State 
 2013239 David King Oklahoma 

If you said "They all came from college conferences in which they faced top-end competition," you are correct. We would have also accepted "None of them have ever been in my kitchen."

Anyway, the point here is that the Eagles have never drafted a small school player under Chip Kelly, so it would be quite a leap from the ordinary for them to draft a player from North Dakota State who they'd hope could be their franchise quarterback. The one thing that makes me feel like it's, at least, a possibility is that Wentz is scheduled to compete at the Senior Bowl, which is where the Eagles fell in love previously with prospects such as Lane Johnson and Jordan Matthews.

Wentz started off this season on fire, posting the following stat line before he broke a bone in his wrist on his throwing arm. Before he got hurt, Wentz was 114 of 179 (63.7%) for 1454 yards, 16 TD, and 2 INT. He also rushed for 215 yards and 4 TDs. Let's get to the things I liked, and the things I didn't. To note, I watched Wentz's games this season against Northern Iowa, Weber State, and Montana, via

Things I liked:


Obviously, at 6'6, 230, Wentz has NFL prototype quarterback size.

Surprising athleticism

Typically, when you think of 6'6 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 6'6 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. As far as his fit in Philly goes in that regard, clearly opposing defenses would be forced to respect his running ability in zone read looks more than they currently do with Sam Bradford.

Quick release

Wentz has a nice, quick but effortless release, shown here:

Arm strength

Wentz doesn't have a howitzer, but he does have a plus NFL arm, in my opinion. 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:

Feel for the game / Competitiveness

Those two things are "intangibles," of course, but they show up in games. For example, Wentz 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. Wentz has a great feel for that.

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.

Things I didn't like:

His competition

Wentz often has 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. When he competes at the Senior Bowl in January, Wentz will be among the most heavily scrutinized players there, going up against excellent competition.


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:


I do like Wentz and think he's a very legit, skilled passer with intriguing athleticism. But I also think he has some things to prove at the Senior Bowl in Mobile in January.

Follow Jimmy on Twitter: @JimmyKempski

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