With the second pick in the 2016 NFL draft, the Philadelphia Eagles select North Dakota State QB Carson Wentz.
Analysis: Don’t debit Wentz because he played in the Missouri Valley Football Conference—he’s more NFL-ready than you may think. He has great mobility, the size to run QB power like Cam Newton and a full read palette that belies his small-school history. The Eagles got the second quarterback in this draft class, but in the end, they selected the better one. Think Ben Roethlisberger as a long-term comparison.
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Strengths: Played in an offense that’s more complex than many imagine—Wentz played in shotgun, pistol and under center, had to execute multiple play-action and read-option concepts and made pro-style reads. Has a plus-plus arm with the ability to make every throw with minimal effort. Uses his lower body well to create torque and releases the ball from a consistent slot. Quick release allows him to make a read and get rid of the ball right away. From the pocket, he has the best consistent accuracy in this draft class when throwing intermediate and deep passes; Wentz will consistently throw to the shoulder away from the defender, will throw his open receivers when able and times throws to allow his receivers to jump to catch.
Wentz isn’t afraid to throw into small windows. Touch is an underrated part of his game—Wentz can take heat off the pass and complete timing throws even when he’s not optimally set mechanically. Excellent play-action quarterback who can draw linebackers and safeties in, and throw over and around them. Can excel in boot-action concepts because he’s a big, mobile player who can run for legitimate yardage. Understands and exploits the mesh point. Worked in some designed runs as well. Runs to throw unless it’s a designed run. Is still learning pocket awareness, but has developed a nascent ability to move around rushers without bailing out of the pocket entirely.
Weaknesses: Though he carried himself well and looked like a major-college prospect during Senior Bowl week, strength of competition is a legitimate concern for Wentz. He didn’t face a ton of complex defenses, nor did he have to deal with defenses loaded with top NFL prospects. One could argue that this is mitigated by the talent on Wentz’s own team, but it’s an issue nonetheless. Wentz isn’t a consistent thrower on the move because he doesn’t always turn his shoulders to the target, and may lose accuracy and velocity. Needs to refine his footwork on under-center dropbacks. Tends to lock onto his eventual targets for too long, which will lead to converging coverages at the NFL level. Needs to be more sudden and accurate on deep throws at times, and his read quickness is an issue.