Draft Week: What the Experts Say About Carson Wentz
The NFL Draft begins this Thursday and the anticipation is growing about when Carson Wentz will be drafted.
Let's take a look at what the experts are saying about Carson Wentz:
Pro Football Focus (Owned by Cris Collinsworth)
What he does best:
Arm stands out. Throws with great velocity
Can fire the ball in there on the deep out/comeback. Made far-hash throws look easy at the college level
Arm strength on comebacks and seam routes make him a prime candidate for a vertical passing system
Did a nice job as a designed runner and as a scrambler in college. Can pick up yards on the ground, but not sure how much his future team will want him to do so at the next level
Throws with anticipation on first-read throws, can zip the curl route before the wide receiver’s break
Ranked second in the draft class in adjusted completion percentage at the intermediate (11-20 yard) range at 70.7 percent
Slow to process in the passing game. Will be late on short and intermediate throws, but arm strength bails him out.
Rarely got to a third read in his progression, even when running common, staple passing concepts.
Accuracy at 21-30 yard range was well below average, his adjusted completion percentage of 43.5 percent ranked 23rd in the draft class. For a big-armed quarterback, has to take advantage of throws in this range to maximize his potential
Inexperienced. Much of Wentz’s lure is the physical size and arm, but will he progress and maximize his potential?
Not always nimble maneuvering the pocket. Attempted only eight passes after breaking the pocket and completed one for negative-five yards
There’s lots to like about Wentz, but still question marks. The size and big arm stand out – his velocity is an asset at the short and intermediate range at the next level. The concern is whether or not the big arm loses accuracy beyond 20 yards to be effective. He’ll flash some touch on the deep ball, but it’s too inconsistent. His lack of timing in the passing game is a major concern, but if he can iron it out, the upside is immense. Any team drafting Wentz is banking on huge improvement in a number of areas, but given his relative lack of experience, the gamble may be worthwhile.
BACKGROUND: A no-star quarterback recruit, Wentz was vastly overlooked throughout the recruitment process because he played wide receiver and linebacker as a junior in high school (due to baseball injuries) before starting at quarterback as a senior in 2010. He received offers from a handful of FCS-level teams and Central Michigan (the only FBS program to recruit him) but Wentz stuck to his commitment to nearby North Dakota State, where his brother played baseball. After redshirting in 2011, he saw limited playing time as Brock Jensen’s back-up as a redshirt freshman and sophomore. Wentz became the starter in 2014 and led the Bison to the FCS National Title with 63.7% completions, 3,111 passing yards, 25 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, earning All-America honors. He started the first six games as a senior before a throwing wrist injury sidelined him for the second half of the 2015 season, returning for the FCS National Championship Game. Wentz finished the season with 62.5% completions, 1,651 passing yards, 17 touchdowns and four interceptions. He accepted his invitation to the 2016 Senior Bowl.
STRENGTHS: Looks the part with a tall, workable frame…above average arm strength to deliver downfield with required velocity – can make all the necessary NFL throws…tight release, especially for a player with his long arms…shifts his weight well in the pocket to work through the noise and keep his hand on the trigger, maneuvering under duress with improved footwork…functional athleticism in the pocket and as a scrambler, avoiding rushers and extending plays – throws well moving to his left and his right…has a pre-snap plan and moves efficiently from target-to-target, making sound decisions…shows the ability to recognize defensive coverages and blitzes, changing the play at the line – coaches put a lot on his plate, trusting him to make all protection calls and checks…reliable field vision pre and post snap…very smart on and off the field with excellent retention and execution skills – four-time All-Conference honor roll recipient (4.0 GPA) and unprecedented three-time recipient of the NCAA Elite 90 Award…physically and mentally tough with professional poise and work habits…great teammate and was an extra coach on the sideline while injured…set school single season records for completions (228) and passing yards (3,111) as a junior…consistent winner with a 20-3 career record as
a starter and five-time FCS National Champion (twice as a starter).
WEAKNESSES: Locks onto reads with immature eye use, staring down targets and leading defenders…improved passing anticipation, but still developing his feel for timing routes – tick late and needs to speed up his reads…wide base and needs to improve his lower body efficiency…downfield and deep accuracy is inconsistent, leading or underthrowing…bad habit of pre-determining throws and forcing the ball into crowded coverage…needs to understand when the play is over and throw the ball away – 10 fumbles the last two years…on the move too much, even with a clean pocket, and will attempt throws without setting his base or coming to balance…lacks ideal starting experience for the position with questions about level of competition – 22 of 23 career starts came against FCS competition (one FBS opponent was at Iowa State: 18-for-28 for 204 yards, no touchdowns)…missed second half of 2015 season due to a broken right wrist, requiring surgery (Oct. 2015), but did return for the 2015 FCS Championship Game, leading his team to victory.
SUMMARY: A two-year starter, Wentz thrived in North Dakota State’s wide-open offense, taking snaps from under center and shotgun with several pro-style reads, including left-to-right and high-to-low progressions – didn’t consistently face top competition at the FCS level, but performed well in high pressure situations, including the 2014 and 2015 FCS National Championship Games (NDSU won both). He was only a 5-foot-8, 125 pound freshman in high school and didn’t start at quarterback until his senior year, causing him to go under-recruited (similar path as Ben Roethlisberger). Although his internal clock and eye use need maturing, Wentz performs well within structure with his strong arm and touch, but can also improvise when the play breaks down, stretching out his legs to pick up chunk yardage if it’s there (1,028 career rushing yards). He possesses a NFL-style skill-set with his size, athleticism and arm talent, including the field vision to work through reads and make sound decisions – the top senior passer in the 2016 draft class and ideally needs a redshirt rookie season in the NFL.
Mental Makeup Wentz is experienced conducting a pro-style system. Height and good stature enable him to scan the entire field from inside the pocket. He clearly puts in the time and understands situational football. Shows quality awareness against the blitz and executes hot reads/site adjustments well. There's no questioning his physical or mental toughness, either. He frequently shows no fear staring down the gun barrel and will step into throws even when he knows he's going to take a shot. Displayed strong poise in critical moments throughout two seasons, including a come-from-behind drive late in the 2014 FCS National Championship game and a come-from-behind win over UNI in 2015 after throwing two early INTs. His decision making as a passer has been good (career TD-INT ratio was 3.2-1, and 4.3-1 in 2015). But he needs to learn when to pull the plug on a play (despite big hand span of 10 inches, he had 10 fumbles in 23 starts and also fumbled at the Senior Bowl). There are two additional areas he will need to improve upon: 1) He has a tendency to lock onto his primary read, and 2) He takes too many risks in the red zone. Accuracy Displays very good natural accuracy at all three levels when footwork is sound. He understands where to place the ball in certain situations and versus different coverages, and he shows the ability to hit those spots at a high level. Displays the ability to deliver accurate throws from an off-balance platform, but lower-body mechanics need to be more consistent in this area. He's more accurate throwing to his right than his left on the move. Displays quality touch with intermediate throws between the hashes. Inconsistent with deep ball trajectory and accuracy. Release/Arm Strength Quick, over-the-top delivery. Efficient load-to-arrival time. Overall velocity is good but not elite. Capable of making all the necessary throws in the NFL, but certain passes will require him to drive off his back foot and get a full weight transfer in order to throw with required velocity. The ball is not always clean coming out and will flutter on occasion. He flashes the ability to change up arm angles and still deliver the ball with adequate velocity. Pocket Mobility Underrated athlete for his size. Has quality foot quickness and mobility to escape pressure and buy time. Displays the ability to move the chains as a runner. He has a big and sturdy frame and flashes the ability to occasionally ward off would-be sacks. Good pocket presence. Consistently feels the backside rush coming. Shows the willingness to sit in and work through progressions in a muddy pocket, but there are occasions where his internal clock will speed up and he will bail prematurely from a clean pocket. Does a nice job of keeping his eyes down field when extending plays outside the pocket before electing to run.
Wentz was a two-year starter at quarterback for the Bison. He lines up both under center and in the shotgun in this offense. He has quick feet in his setup and he throws from a wide, firm base. He is very quick to work through progressions and he throws with excellent touch and anticipation. He is very accurate underneath and intermediate but he has been inconsistent with his deep-ball accuracy. He has a quick release and he can throw from a variety of arm angles. The ball doesn't jump out of his hand but he has enough velocity to make all of the throws. He is very athletic to create plays with his legs and he's effective on designed QB runs. He is extremely tough to hang in the pocket vs. pressure and he's played really well in big games. Overall, Wentz has an enticing blend of size, ability and toughness. Don't be fooled by his level of competition. He's a big-time talent.
The general consensus is that Wentz is a great Quarterback but experts worry about the fact that he played in the FCS and did not face the greatest competition. Experts also worry about his deep ball accuracy.
Wentz is projected to be drafted in the No. 1 spot to the Rams or in the No. 2 spot to the Eagles.
The NFL Draft begins this Thursday (April 28) at 7 p.m. and you can watch it on either ESPN or NFL Network.