“And with the No. 2 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft the Philadelphia Eagles select Carson Wentz out of North Dakota State University.” Ah, it was like music to my ears hearing Roger Goodell announce those words behind his podium. The Eagles got their wish and Head Coach Doug Pederson was happy. “He’s a winner”, he said. “I love the intangibles about him. He really is a very attractive pick for us.”
Although I am content and excited about the Eagles selecting Wentz, it all depends on how you look at it. Philadelphia made a total of three different trades to go from the N0. 13 overall pick to the No. 2 overall pick. That’s a lot. Also, the Eagles could have decided to go a completely different way and focus on building the best possible team around Sam Bradford, who just signed a new contract. By doing so, this would have meant holding onto their draft picks and selecting at No. 13, where arguably the best player in the draft ending up being taken. Ironic, isn’t it? This strategy might have worked better, at least in the short run. Bradford may finally find his groove this season and reach his potential in Pederson’s offense. Who knows? The Eagles were definitely not going to place all of their eggs in one basket, and I wholeheartedly agree with that. Wentz could turn out to be overrated and over time the Eagles may realize that they paid way to high of a price to go up and grab him. But hey, they took a shot and only time will tell.
As far as tangible attributes go, he has the whole package. Standing at 6-foot-5 237 lbs, his arm strength and physical tools are about as good as it gets for the quarterback position. But to me, this isn’t what separates him from the rest of the pack. Everyone knows that the intangible qualities are the difference between a good player and a great player. I believe Wentz has what it takes. He is a fierce competitor who knows how to win, plain and simple. He led his college team to two national championship wins and is well regarded as a great teammate and friend. Not to mention the man has never received a final grade below an A in his entire life. Now THAT is something I want to hear about my future franchise quarterback.
Unfortunately there are a lot of risks and unknowns about a player like Wentz, although it really is tough to find something not to like about him. For starters, he played at an NCAA FCS level in college. Despite the fact that the school he played for is often considered the Alabama of Division I-AA, the competition is without a doubt not as good. Another concern of mine is that Wentz has not played in many football games. He started only 23 games in college and when he was out with a broken wrist during the 2015 season, his backup went 8-0 to lead the team to the National Championship game. I don’t doubt Wentz’s ability but is it more the quarterback or more the system? To me, if he can play then he can play. Quarterbacks that came from the FCS have succeeded in the NFL- such as Joe Flacco and Steve McNair – but it does add another element of risk to an already uncertain prospect.
The last time the Eagles decided to choose a quarterback with the No. 2 pick, it was arguably the best player in franchise history, Donovan McNabb. Coach Pederson was the backup on that 1999 team and is likely trying to emulate Andy Reid‘s development of Mcnabb as a franchise quarterback with Wentz. Still, when asked to compare Wentz to another quarterback, Pederson did not mention Mcnabb. Instead, he decided to compare Wentz to Brett Favre. “He’s got that mentality”, he said. “He’s got that aggressiveness that Brett had. Those are some of the skill sets I see in Carson – that aggression, that ability to throw the ball down the field. I love quarterbacks that are willing to take a chance, take a calculated risk down the field. Brett was that way and I see the same thing in Carson.”
Bradford remains the sheriff in town for now but circumstances could definitely change real fast. Even though, the Eagles do not plan on dressing Wentz at all this upcoming season, history says otherwise. So expect to see Wentz be thrown into the fire at some point this winter. You won’t want to miss that.
As for the Eagles’ organization moving forward, they will unquestionably be working their phones to try and acquire another draft pick or two. Thanks to last year’s trade for Bradford, they have no second round picks. They also had two third round picks and a fourth round pick but traded them away to Cleveland to move up to No. 2 in the first round. So unless the Eagles’ front office has a couple tricks up their sleeves, the rest of this draft will be pretty uneventful for Philadelphia. Coverage of the second and third rounds of the NFL Draft start tonight at 7 PM ET.