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2016 NFL Draft Profiles: Carson Wentz and Cardale Jones have championship resumes

Could the Eagles draft one of these QBs? Or both?

Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

If I were to talk about a certain quarterback in this class, who would you guess it was? Great size, standing over 6-4 with a well built frame... A deadly weapon attached to his right shoulder with legs to threaten a defense to match... How did he do in college? Well, all he did was lead his team on national championship run in his first opportunity to start and followed it up by winning every game he started the following season... Who am I talking about?

Cardale Jones, of course.

Cardale Jones is one of the best stories in recent college football history. After losing their top two quarterbacks, Jones, Ohio State's third string quarterback, was tasked with starting late in the season. Ohio state asked him to lead the team in the Big 10 Championship to a win, which he did. They asked him to lead OSU to a win in the Semifinals against Alabama, which he did. Finally, his fourth start of the season came in the national title game, where he was asked to lead the team in a win against Oregon...

Which he did. And he did it in a pretty astounding fashion too.

Jones wasn't operating any difficult type of offense, but the way he commanded the Buckeyes was to a peak level of efficiency. He turbocharged the team's passing game, allowing for a deep ball element that the former starter, JT Barrett wasn't able to consistently generate. To compliment, he also was able to threaten defenses with his legs. Standing at 6-5, 250 pounds, Jones was like a mack truck barreling down the field. Defenses had to account for Jones gifts as a quarterback, which allowed running back Ezekiel Elliot to go on an epic four game tear. Ohio State's offense looked incredible.

After the team's run, Jones had the option to enter the draft with his stellar play still fresh in the NFL's mind. However, there were detractions to his NFL prospects: He didn't have enough experience on the field, he doesn't have great accuracy, he wasn't asked to run a complicated offense, etc... Legitimate concerns were abound for the new star despite what he just accomplished and that probably factored into his decision to return for a final season.

The Buckeyes held a quarterback competition between Cardale Jones and the guy he took over from initially, JT Barrett. The controversy went on the entire offseason until the Buckeyes opening game of 2015 where apparently the starting quarterback was decided in the huddle!(!!!!) Unfortunately, Cardale Jones' college legend had already peaked.

After Ohio State's awesome run, they lost their big deep threat, Devin Smith, to the draft. Even more consequential was the team losing offensive coordinator, Tom Herman as he went on to coach for the University of Houston. The loss of Herman's influence on the offense was incredibly evident and detrimental. The calls were consistently poor, the running game was used in random spurts, the offensive design was mediocre and for that reason, everyone in the offense took a step back statistically. However, no one felt the affect of a poorly coordinated offense like Jones. Few things are more important to a quarterback's success that offensive continuity and organizational confidence. Losing Herman was bad, but with JT Barrett constantly being switched in and breathing down his neck, it neutered Jones' ability. The truth is that he was still the same quarterback this year as he was during Ohio State's championship run. A flawed prospect? No doubt. However, few quarterbacks in the country have Cardale Jones' skill set. The howitzer arm strength, the Goliath size, the Big Ben-eque ability to create plays, an aggressive passing style and an awesome resolve to bounce back from blips made Jones so intriguing and the truth is that is who he still is as a quarterback. He has issues with accuracy and he wasn't always asked to make "pro reads", but he also wasn't given proper time to grow in a system. Most quarterbacks are system quarterbacks and they are given years in those systems to grow and learn the nuances of how they function there. That's what Marcus Mariota did at Oregon. Hell, that's what Joe Montana did in San Fransisco. Obviously, I am not saying Jones is that level of quarterback, but I am saying there needs to context when players are evaluated.

So why am I caping for Jones?

Because media is very hot takey and recency bias informs the media that Cardale Jones should switch positions or he shouldn't be drafted or some other bullshit, but the reality is that he is still a talented quarterback. He is flawed like every other quarterback prospect, especially in this class, but he is the perfect type of "project" player teams should look for. I am defending against hot takery because the rhetoric surrounding Jones is lazy and overplayed.

Where does Carson Wentz fit into this?

I think Wentz is incredibly interesting because he really is not so different from Cardale Jones. Both have excellent size, arm strength and athletic ability. In Wentz' first season as a starter he led NDSU to a Championship win. This season, Wentz missed a large Chunk of the season due to a wrist injury, but came back just in time to help the team win another Championship. All he did in college was win and he has NFL traits to match an impressive college record. So he and Cardale Jones win football games. That's all they've done and that's important! Like Jones, however, Wentz has plenty of flaws to make note of. Wentz was rarely asked to make it past his first read and the offense he ran was very simplistic. On top of that, he isn't a particularly accurate quarterback at any level of the field. Like Jones, he has amazing flashes of arm strength, accuracy and anticipation, but they are just that... Flashes. Both have awesome mobility and are aggressive passers, but their decision making can also get them into trouble. The part where Wentz doesn't stack up is his work in the pocket. For one his footwork can get messy, though that is less of a worry than his inconsistency with poise. He has moments where he stands in a muddy pocket to deliver a strike, but too often does he break down with bodies around him and that is really worrisome. So, he is talented, highly decorated, but flawed in an incredibly similar vein to Cardale Jones.

But Wentz is currently talked about as a potential top five pick and Cardale Jones is talked about as a late round pick and maybe a tight end convert... Hmmmm.

Part of it is recency bias and part of it may have to do with the NFL's... uhhh... conundrum with black quarterbacks. That as a white quarterback, Wentz' accomplishments will speak louder than his flaws, but the opposite will be true with Cardale in terms of how the media and NFL view him. People will remember his flaws but forget all the impressive things he can do.

NFL Comparisons: Without delving too much into politics, I want to make it clear that evaluations are even playing fields for me. Bias isn't part of the equation, race, recency or otherwise. The truth is that Cardale and Wentz are incredibly similar prospects and as passers, both remind me of Zach Mettenberger. In the pocket, both have excellent arm strength to hit all levels of the field to match with an aggressive playing style. Accuracy and decision making are inconsistent, but flashes are there for both. I think Cardale has much more poise in the pocket than Wentz, but both quarterbacks are dangerous with their feet as well.

Neither quarterbacks are day one starters in any offense, but I think the Eagles offense would create an even steeper learning curve. Both are adroit in "see and throw" type of passing rather than being more anticipatory quarterbacks. I am enamored with their skill sets, as a blend of arm strength, mobility and aggression is always a dangerous base with which to be a quarterback. If the team is willing to groom either quarterback, I think they would be excellent picks in the middle rounds.

It is important to always look at the whole picture. The narratives being told of Wentz and Jones have been night and day, but the truth is their books are much the same. Both are talented, both have won, but both need time.

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