At this point in the process, mere hours before the 2016 NFL Draft, my stance on Carson Wentz is pretty clear. What is also pretty clear, is that Eagles are going to be using the second overall pick of today's draft on the North Dakota State passer. I know everyone thinks I am being a Negative Nancy, but after months of watching Wentz, I've had a hard time rationalizing him as this top tier passer. It is not all doom and gloom with me, surprisingly, and since my mother tells me I need to smile more, here is how Wentz can be the guy to lead the Eagles into the future.
One of my favorite traits in a quarterback is aggressiveness. Conservative quarterback play may limit turnovers, but it also limits offense and a conservative quarterback is not going to win football games that matter in the NFL. As a passer, Wentz has confidence in spades. He has a strong arm and is more than willing to use it to test coverage at any level of the field. This gun slinging mentality usually yields its fare share of turnovers, but the big plays it can create are invaluable. This element to Wentz's game is what stands out the most to me and his bravery as a passer will afford an offense many opportunities to score points.
This confidence goes beyond just throwing the football, as their is also a consistently fortitude that Wentz maintains throughout the game. He can miss throws, turn the ball over or take big sacks (often that he causes himself) but it rarely, if ever deflates his confidence. Jared Goff, the other apparent top quarterback in this class, has a tendency to implode when mistakes start happening, which is not what you want from a quarterback who is bound to make a mistake on at least one of his 40 throws a game. Wentz has a consistent levelheadedness on the field that not only will keep him upright, but also keep his teammates' head in the game as well.
Off the field is harder for me to speak directly because I have never met or spoken to the guy. However, after everything I have read and watched about him, I can conclude that he is incredibly boring. But wait, that's a good thing! He's just a boring, incredibly hardworking guy. He is the type of guy who you'd want to date your daughter (or son). He would have to stay away from my hypothetical kids, because my kids aren't dating red heads, but I digress. Wentz's work ethic, as I understand, is beyond belief. Coaches, analysts and people who have worked with Wentz all give him ringing endorsements. So, hopefully, this will yield improvements on his flaws.
Wentz's work ethic in tandem with the Eagles coaching staff should, theoretically, yield improvements. Doug Pederson and Frank Reich are both former quarterbacks and quarterback coaches and John DeFilippo, the standing quarterback coach, has an encouraging track record with helping young signal callers. Wentz has a steep hill to climb coming from an offense where he rarely was moving past his first read and work a defense, but with the support of this coaching staff and experience on the field, Wentz may have a shot of mitigating his flaws.
That's another thing ... Wentz needs to start now.
Wentz is an older quarterback prospect with only 650 pass attempts in college (A majority coming against FCS competition). It is imperative that Wentz learns in game action, with bullets flying. When teams are spending so much practice time getting ready for the games, it is a waste of time to give the number two quarterback snaps against the first team defense and practicing playing quarterback and actually playing quarterback are two very different ballgames. Riding the pine does nothing for Wentz and it does nothing for the football team. Luckily, Wentz has a lot of confidence and doesn't seem to get scared. The truth is that Wentz will make a lot of mistakes early in his career, but as long as the staff lets him touch the stove but continues to put their full support in him, he has a chance at being able to hone his ability. A lot of quarterback success in the NFL comes from organization confidence. If a quarterback feels like they have the support of the team and the coaching staff, it makes it a lot easier for them to play. They are loose and confident instead of playing scared. If the team is willing to throw him in the fire, yet be patient with him and his mistakes, it gives him the best chance at improving and succeeding.
The best young quarterbacks in the game; Cam Newton, Russ Wilson, Andrew Luck, Derek Carr, Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota were all starting from day one and were able to prove very quickly that they were "the guy" for their team. Let Wentz go out there and learn in live action instead of delaying his real development by keeping him on the bench and out of games while Sam Bradford check downs the season away. The team isn't winning either way, so it is more constructive to learn what the rookie can do.
I am sticking to my guns on my evaluation of Carson Wentz. However, the team obviously feels drastically different than I do and there are aspects of Wentz's game that could translate to being a productive NFL quarterback. Whether or not he overcomes his flaws depends on how the coaching staff handles him and if they can harness his good plays while he mitigates his not so good plays. However, if you want to see how Wentz can be the quarterback the Eagles have been looking for since McNabb left, you have to look towards his tools, his confidence and his work ethic. Take those things and hope a quarterback friendly staff can help him reach what is a very high ceiling.