It's widely expected that the Philadelphia Eagles will select Carson Wentz after trading up to the No. 2 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. If that's the case, it's safe to say draft guru Mike Mayock approves of the pick. Mayock has been very high on Wentz throughout the draft process. He said Wentz's ceiling is similar to Andrew Luck. Mayock has called Wentz a franchise quarterback. In a conference call on Friday, Mayock answered a lot of questions about Wentz. Check out the transcript below.
You know the Philadelphia area pretty well having lived here. With Carson Wentz, what makes you think that he'll be able to handle the pressure cooker that comes with being the franchise quarterback for the Eagles, and also the fact that the Eagles gave up so much to get him? What do you think makes him the guy that can handle that or maybe makes him the guy that can't handle that?
"I do think he can handle it. I've gotten to know this kid a little bit, more than I typically get to know a kid which makes me more confident in my quarterback evaluations. So let's forget all the physical traits and go to the intangibles. Talking about a mid-Western kid with mid-Western values and work ethic. He's a Division I player that goes to the Senior Bowl, and he's not overwhelmed at all. As a matter of fact, he's the best quarterback there by far. Handled himself beautifully. Every team I talked to at the Senior Bowl fell in love with this kid.
Now there is increased pressure in Indianapolis with the combine. Again, handled it beautifully. People come away buzzing about this Carson Wentz kid. I go to his Pro Day in Fargo, North Dakota, I spend a day and a half, his teammates love him, his coaching staff loves him. He has more freedom at the line of scrimmage for a college quarterback than just about anybody I've seen since Andrew Luck. He changes the plays.
He's never gotten a B in school. He's intelligent. He's got a great work ethic, he loves the game of football, and if you're talking about having a passion and being the face of a franchise, this is the kid. And I do believe he'll handle Philadelphia because he'll work so hard and be so humble. I think the blue collar Philly fans are going to love him."
Regarding Carson Wentz, at what point did he become a player on your radar? At what point did you think he was a candidate for a top one, top two pick?
"He got on my radar back in October-November when I was going through my list and watching tape of the top players in each position. I had never even heard of him. He was just a name on my quarterback list. The first guy I looked at was Goff. When I got done four games of Goff, I thought this is going to be my first guy. This is going to be my top quarterback. I liked everything about Jared Goff. I thought he was a Top 10 pick in just about any draft.
A week later I put in the first tape of Carson Wentz and it was against Northern Iowa, and I remember it like it was yesterday. I was like, holy crap, that is a great tape. I hope the next one is as good. The next one was as good as was the next one.
So right away I knew we had a first-round quarterback on our hands, and you needed to figure the kid out. The senior quarterback, best quarterback back there, combine outstanding. The Pro Day really sold me on the kid because of the way he was with his coaches and teammates, the respect he earned. The intelligence of the kids, the intangibles that help make it.
So he's always been my number one quarterback since back in the fall. He's crossed off every check mark since. I took a lot of abuse a month or two ago for saying that I thought Wentz and Goff were every bit in the conversation with last year's Mariota and Winston. And I still believe it, and apparently two other NFL teams do, if they're willing to give up that kind of fire power to move up and get those guys."
I hate to belabor one more Carson Wentz question, but Sam Bradford, is Wentz a better prospect than Bradford was six years ago in your eyes? Is he different at all? Is he similar?
"Here's the situation, when Bradford came out, there was a similar buzz. Coming out of Oklahoma, great Pro Day, blah, blah, blah, one of the more accurate college quarterbacks I've seen. The issue was then and still now, very slight frame and injury prone. That was kind of the caveat that came with all the glowing reports.
Six years later, that's still been his Achilles heel, because when he's healthy for long periods of time, he can get pretty good. He still has a good arm. He still throws the ball with accuracy.
So I look at Carson Wentz, and I see a big, thick, athletic kid with an elite arm, all the intelligence in the world. If you're going to ask me for one negative, I would say, because he only has 23 starts, and I don't care about Division I, AA, but because he's only had 23 starts, that's less than half as many throws as Jared Goff. Less than half as many throws as Connor Cook. So he doesn't have as many reps. He needs to get the football. He needs to process information more quickly, and he needs to get the ball out more quickly. But that's part of the normal developmental pattern of just about any college quarterback, and I think he has the intelligence and work ethic to get that done.
So if you ask me today who I'm more excited about as a first round quarterback, it would be Carson Wentz over Bradford from back in the day."
I'm out here in Western, North Dakota so you can problem imagine that Carson Wentz is the big story. I've been following your analysis since the beginning. With everything that goes into Wentz' story, have you ever seen another draft story similar to this in all your years?
"Wow, that's a pretty dramatic question, man. I mean, Joe Flacco's a pretty good story. Goes to Pittsburgh, gets beaten out by a coach's son by the name of Tyler Palko, goes to Delaware, has to sit out a year, Started a very similar number of games. I started 26 games where Wentz will be 23. I believe Delaware won a National Championship while he was there. And while it was only one, not five in a row like you guys, it was still pretty impressive, and he went in the top 20. I forget what number he went.
While that story is not quite as dramatic as Carson Wentz, it's similar, but the Carson Wentz thing, especially when he got hurt this year and missed those six or seven games in the middle to late season, I think that added some drama to it. If he had built some more momentum throughout the year, maybe it wouldn't have come as much of a surprise to people. But I think more than anything, what I'm impressed about is the way the kids handled everything off the field. It hasn't affected anything on the field.
The momentum continues to build. Every team I've talked to has been highly impressed. I've been highly impressed, and if he keeps those good, mid-Western values, the kid's going to be a Folk hero no matter where he goes."
Obviously Carson Wentz is bringing a lot of attention to the Division I-AA or FCS level, but it seems like that level of football has produced some good players in the past, and you mentioned Flacco. Are you seeing an increase in talent from that level over the past few years, and also I've been told there are as many as 20 prospects from the FCS level that could be taken in this draft. Do you agree with that assessment?
"I don't know what the number is, but two things: One is I think there's a greater awareness of the general public about some of these high-level FCS players. I think the NFL has always scouted them, but when you start talking about Joe Flacco winning a Super Bowl, Carson Wentz going one or two overall, that brings an awareness to the public, wow, what kind of football. I mean, I had a son that played at Villanova. They won a National Championship in 2009, and I'm very close to watching that league play. They're kind of the SEC of I-AA. I've seen a lot of that league. I've seen a lot of North Dakota State, Montana State. I'm a believer in that level.
And then what happens is a select few every year get to go play in the Senior Bowl, and this year Carson Wentz took full advantage of the Senior Bowl. And then we had some other guys. We had Harlan Miller, a corner, was there; DeAndre Houston-Carson from William & Mary was at the Senior Bowl. If 15 to 20 guys from the FCS go, that wouldn't surprise me at all. I'm a big believer in Division I-AA, and I think the NFL has done a really good job of scouting those kids."
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