Eagles Get Their Guy in Wentz
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) — The worst kept secret in Philadelphia was unveiled Thursday night when the Philadelphia Eagles used the second overall selection in the NFL Draft on former North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz.
It remains to be seen when the next era of Eagles football actually begins but the standard bearer was secured through a series of trades in which Philadelphia moved from No. 13 in the process all the way to No. 2, where Wentz was sitting once the Los Angeles Rams selected Cal signal caller Jared Goff.
"It just really exciting to know a team wanted you that much to go up and get me," Wentz said on his introductory conference call with reporters. "I'm excited to be an Eagle. I am not going to put any extra pressure on myself. I'm just going to keep holding myself to high expectations."
The Eagles became enamored with Wentz during Senior Bowl week despite the fact that the 6-foot-5, 237-pound QB stared just 23 games at the FCS level.
A combination of impressive physical skills, along with smarts and a prodigious work ethic sold Philadelphia on doing what ever it took to land Wentz, the first QB the Eagles have drafted in the first round since Donovan McNabb was taken with the second selection back in 1999.
"We are really excited to get Carson, the player all along we were targeting," Eagles executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman said after making the pick."
With McNabb under center, the Eagles had a sustained level of success for nearly a decade, winning 10 postseason games, appearing in five NFC Championship Games and a Super Bowl from 2000 to 2008. Since then the organization has bounced from stop-gap to stop-gap: Kevin Kolb, Michael Vick, Nick Foles, Mark Sanchez and Sam Bradford.
"One player can change your team," Roseman surmised.
To secure Wentz the Eagles first traded cornerback Byron Maxwell and linebacker Kiko Alonso to the Miami Dolphins in order to move from No. 13 to No. 8. They the traded up again sending five picks, including three in this year's draft and a 2017 first-round selection, to Cleveland for the second spot.
"He was the top player on our board," Roseman claimed. "Everything about him is impressive. The 40 test (Wonderlic) score. He was valedictorian of his high school, never got a B (graded). He's impressive."
When asked who Wentz reminded him of, Doug Pederson, the Eagles' first-year coach, didn't exactly lower the bar of expectations, mentioning the name of soon-to-be Hall of Famer Brett Favre.
"Pretty unbelievable hearing that," Wentz said. "You know growing up Favre has always been my favorite guy to watch. His mentality, the way he played the game. The way he approached it. He had fun with it. Grittiness, that hard-working attitude. I just loved everything about him. Being compared to him, I've got a long way to go obviously but it's pretty cool hearing that."
While the strategy to get Wentz worked, it also created acrimony with Bradford, who signed a two-year extension in the offseason and has vowed to boycott the team's voluntary work and requested a trade.
"We are both professionals now. It will be what it is," Wentz said of sharing a locker room with the disgruntled veteran. "Just don't make it bigger than it needs to be. I'm just going to go in and focus on what I can control and learning as much ball as I can."
Both Roseman and Pederson again affirmed that Bradford remains the team's starter and will be welcomed back whenever he decides to return.
BREAKDOWN (Courtesy of ProFootballFocus.com):
What Wentz 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
Biggest Concerns with Wentz:
- 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
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973ESPN.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen