Carson Wentz: Better Late Than Never »
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"Carson Wentz"

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Over the summer I began to hear about this 6’6”, 235 pound FCS quarterback with one year as a starter. I scoured the internet for clips. At the time they were few and far between. Luckily I recorded the FCS Championship game. In one full game and a couple of cut ups I walked away impressed but filed him as a developmental QB because of competition and lack of seasoning.

The buzz picked up steam as Carson Wentz got off to a hot start this season before breaking his throwing wrist. The buzz became very real as national draft evaluators began to toss his name in the late first round of early mock drafts. So off I went to watch a handful of Wentz’s senior cut ups.

Needless to say, I’ve walked away very impressed. Adding to that impression was Wentz’s return for the FCS Championship Game. While it wasn’t a perfect effort it was pretty impressive considering he was returning from a broken wrist against a team that gave Auburn all they could handle and rolled through the season on it’s way to the No. 1 seed. Enough gushing and onto what I see with Wentz.

The first thing that jumps off the tape is his athleticism for his size. Listed at 6’6”, 235 (we’ll wait and see on those numbers), Wentz moves well in and out of the pocket. I’d expect him to run well at the Combine in February and impress the few that aren’t already aboard the hype train. The real telltale will be how Wentz performs in Mobile at the Senior Bowl. The biggest knock on the surface is level of competition. I find that a bit lazy (as mentioned I made that lazy mistake early on). Wentz has played well in pressure situations including two FCS Championship games against game opponents in Illinois State and Jacksonville State. In Mobile, Wentz can put to rest any concerns anyone has about FCS competition.

The positives with Wentz are many. Outside of size and athleticism, he has shown an above-average arm and has shown he can make any NFL throw. If you need convinced of this watch the Northern Iowa game from this year. Wentz makes throws all over the field under pressure and in pressure situations. This game may have been his poorest from a statistical perspective but it was the one that convinced me he has the goods to be an NFL starter. He’s consistently under pressure, maneuvers through the chaos and throws ropes – sometimes into tight coverage. The game winner in this contest is a big league throw. Additionally, Wentz’s release is as impressive as any QB in this draft. I’d argue that he throws the prettiest, most catchable ball of anyone not named Jared Goff in this class (Goff’s ball is pretty, no doubt).

North Dakota State operates out of the spread but you don’t see the propensity for short throws or throws behind the line of scrimmage. Wentz is delivering the ball down the field in a more pro-style offense than a typical spread QB. With this in mind, one of my favorite attributes of Wentz’s game is his ball placement. So much of a QB’s success at the next level is tied to their ability to deliver the ball in a spot where it allows for YAC. Wentz’s ball placement is impressive, making me think he’ll be able to throw into tighter windows in the NFL and make a living.

It isn’t all positive with Wentz. He has a tendency to lock onto a receiver pre-snap and stare down option one. He has to improve his ability to tie his eyes and feet if he’s going to be the next great FCS QB in the league. As we often see with athletic (I’ll lump Wentz in that category) his footwork is highly inconsistent. When he misses, his feet are often the culprit.

Readers of NFL’s Future know my affinity for Jimmy Garoppolo when he came out – had a first round grade on him. I am higher on Carson Wentz than Garoppolo. If Wentz is drafted in the right situation – I’m looking at you, Bruce Arians – where he’s allowed time to develop the sky is the limit for him. The problem will be if Wentz shows well in Mobile, it’s not inconceivable for teams to begin projecting him forward a couple of years and someone pulling the trigger in the middle to early stages of round one. Unfortunately those teams don’t have the luxury of waiting for Wentz to develop further and he’ll be forced into early action. Like most QB’s the right situation will be paramount to Wentz’s success at the next level.

Author: Brad

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