Whichever way you slice it, the Eagles gave up a ton of capital to move up in this draft, trading up, not once, but twice, to move from #13 to #2. Given the holes in the roster following the offloading of some big names this is a huge gamble by Howie Roseman and new HC Doug Pederson who are clearly looking to make their mark on the roster. The approach to the QB position has been confusing to this point, shipping big money to Sam Bradford and Chase Daniel. Many analysts feel Wentz is the best QB prospect in this draft and Eagles fans will surely hope so, as the trading of picks to move up heaps more pressure on the young player. Through the pre-draft process he has shown the maturity to deal with growing scrutiny and that will only stand him in good stead in a tough Philly market.
There’s no question that the high grading of Wentz by many, myself included, is based largely on the potential upside. There’s also no question that the Bison quarterback has just that in abundance. North Dakota State are currently on a historic run that has seen them win five consecutive National Championships at the FCS level of college football. While that is at the tier below the top level of the sport, it is still a sensational achievement. The first three of those titles were led by the steady hand of Brock Jensen at QB, with his record leading to Wentz having to wait his turn. As a result, Wentz has a fairly limited number of starts over his two years since taking over, and that included missing a large portion of his senior season to a wrist injury. He made the most out of the time he had though, going 20-3 as the starter, and leading the team to a further two titles. His final game was in the championship game in which he stepped in and looked as if he hadn’t missed a beat with a brilliant performance to finish on a high, a testament to how well he handles big pressure situations. While he’s played well in the spotlight for North Dakota State, his limited opportunity to play versus top competition is a fair question. Which is why his excellent performance throughout the Senior Bowl week recently was made such a fuss of, and rightly so. Wentz did not just look the part among some of the top players in college football, but was a clear stand out overall and most definitely above any of the other quarterbacks in attendance. On top of that, Wentz blew away personnel with his interviews, both with his character and his knowledge on the board with football X & O’s. He had a 4.0 GPA in the classroom, and that intelligence translates to the field. Though playing in the FCS, and using some spread and shotgun elements, North Dakota State also include a lot of pro concepts in their offensive scheme, including playing under center. In addition, Wentz is trusted to read defences, and make changes at the line pre-snap based on what he sees. The scheme requires him to work through a variety of pro-style progressions and reads. He is more NFL ready than a lot of QB’s who played at a higher level, so knocking him for where he played is only so valid. Physically, Wentz clearly has all the desired measurables looked for. Not just tall and well built, he has excellent mobility, with his ability to both buy time on the run but also to make yards as a runner himself when required, and shows his toughness when finishing those carries. He has the arm strength to make all NFL level throws, at times firing the ball downfield with ease. There’s some definite issues with Wentz as well, no doubt. While he can make every throw, his accuracy could be more consistent. Part of that factors in his most significant weakness, that being his footwork, which is notably poor frequently on film. Encouragingly, that too looked much improved at the Senior Bowl and his pro day, but will need to be seen to continue to hold up under pressure. He tends to take too many chances as well, with a bad habit of throwing directly into double coverage, and throwing back across his body over the middle of the field which he got away with in college but will be picked off doing that in the pros. There’s likely going to be some growing pains early on for Wentz if he plays his first year, but this is a QB prospect with so much to like, and though some focus on his measurables first, it’s his strength of character and high football IQ primarily that give him a chance to be very good. (Rebecca Rennie)