Tuesday, January 19, 2016

2016 NFL Draft Profile #6 - Carson Wentz, QB, ND State


I have never been a scout or a NFL General Manager, but I am willing to watch a ton of football. By watching about 200 snaps of each prospect, we can really get a feel for a player and then know what we are talking about a bit better. It is no exact science, but the NFL hasn't quite figured out drafting either, so we are going to do the best we can.To read more about the 2016 NFL Draft Project, Click Here.
Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota St - 6'6, 235 - RS Senior - #11
The exercise with considering the 23-year old Carson Wentz as an elite QB prospect is more of a test of your overall view about where we find Quarterbacks in general.  The best place to find elite talent is generally where elite football is played.  Yet, there are a number of examples that show the level of football that Wentz and his school have dominated over the last several years has given the NFL such franchise QBs as Joe Flacco, Steve McNair, and, of course, Tony Romo.  You could even include NFL MVP Rich Gannon and have more than a couple Quarterbacks that you would certainly like to have on your side.
Once you get by questioning his level of competition, you are going to generally find that Carson Wentz belongs in the conversation at the top of the draft.  He is big, athletic, confident, and capable of being the next guy at the steering wheel of a NFL franchise near you.
So much about finding that guy seems to be about luck in sports.  The San Antonio Spurs only had the top pick twice in their history.  It has almost nothing to do with them that those were the two years that David Robinson and Tim Duncan were going to be in the draft.  It just fell right.  It could have been Andrew Bogut's draft, but they were blessed with some good fortune.  Well, I am here to suggest that the year the Dallas Cowboys pick #4 might be the same year that there were 3 top QB prospects in the draft.  Lucky? In other words, if they decide to go down this road, there is almost no excuse for them not to get a blue-chip QB prospect.  Prospects can disappoint or fail, but the quality appears to be high in this group.  And Wentz is trying to prove it.
What I liked:  He has gifts.  He can make any throw and he can make it at almost any velocity.  I am not sure there is a prospect that can throw the ball harder or further.  He has a gun in the truest sense of the word.  Now, to make his skillset even more exciting, he can run as well as most QBs could hope to run.  This helps him if he were to keep it on a zone read or a 3rd down scramble, but moreso, it helps him move the pocket and keep a play alive.  He rolls to each side of the field and then has the mechanics to properly reset his body to fire a strike to the outside of routes to either sideline.  His motion is more compact than Paxton Lynch in that with Wentz, it often looks like a flick of the wrist.  It also should be said that his ball placement is top-notch.  He not only can hit receivers right at their facemask, but he also can deliver balls where only they can catch them.  He is an athlete who also seems to see the field very well.  He is in total control of the game.  It is tough to find labels for what makes a QB great, but Wentz seems to ooze the characteristics you are looking for when you seek "dude qualities" as Trent Dilfer puts it.
What I did not like:  This is a normal negative that accompanies a QB who can make any throw, but he definitely has a gunslinger's irrational confidence on some throws.  This guy will win games with his arm, but he better have a coach that will firmly instruct him when to not trust his arm, because he will also try to fit a ball into coverage and it will get picked off.  He doesn't throw a lot of interceptions, but again, when you watch him play you can understand why he thinks he can make any throw.  He can.  But safeties at the NFL are too good to touch the stove too often.  He will need to harness his enthusiasm early in his career.  This is normal when gunslingers go up in competition, but I am sure his rookie year will include this learning process.  He also makes throws that often put his receivers in danger from those same safeties. If you can make all of the throws, let's make fewer throws into danger spaces. I would also point out that he seems to take a fair number of direct hits in the pocket as he seeks a big throw.  I would prefer my QB not feel like he is invincible, because as we often say, the most important ability is availability.  The only way to stand up to QB hits in the NFL is to avoid as many as possible.
Summary and Potential Fit For the Cowboys:  I confess, after watching just about every play he snapped in 2015, I am really excited about Carson Wentz.  It is difficult to separate the top 3 QBs in this draft right now, because the spring process is a long one where we turn over every rock.  But as I sit here a week before the Senior Bowl - where the Cowboys are trying to be his coach for a week - I can definitely see a scenario where the spring objective for the local team in the draft is to make sure that the FCS Championship game isn't the only time he visits Frisco, Texas. 
Wentz is a real interesting prospect who seems to have very few limitations.  It would certainly give you more confidence to have seen him carve up Top 20 college powers with routine, so I admit this requires a little bit of a leap of faith.  But, he was in massive games as a college QB at his level and definitely stole the show with regularity.  College accomplishments do not go with a player to the next level, but if the toolbox is full of fantastic tools that translate to the NFL, you should take him seriously.  And, I really do.

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