Mayock Puts Stamp of Approval on Eagles’ Plan
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) — The only thing standing between the worst kept secret in Philadelphia being revealed on Thursday night is the Los Angeles Rams.
The Eagles want Carson Wentz with the No. 2 overall selection and believe the former North Dakota State star will be there so if everything shakes out as expected, the next question is can a Midwestern kid, who has started only 23 games at the FCS level handle one of the nation's toughest media markets as the face of Philadelphia's franchise?
NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock believes Wentz can.
"I do think he can handle it," the former Boston College safety, who lives in the area, said on his annual pre-draft conference call. "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."
Mayock has made news by claiming that this year's top two signal callers -- Wentz and Cal's Jared Goff -- compare favorably to the more-highly hyped duo of Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota from last year.
The main selling point with Wentz, the object of Doug Pederson's affections, is his size and triangle measurements, as well as prodigious arm strength. But, it's the intangibles that impressed Mayock.
"Let's forget all the physical traits and go to the intangibles," Mayock said. "Talking about a Midwestern kid with Midwestern values and work ethic. He's a Division I-AA 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 fell in love with the kid."
And it didn't stop from there.
"Now there is increased pressure in Indianapolis with the combine," Mayock explained. "Again handled it beautifully. People came away buzzing about this Carson Wentz kid. I go to his pro day in Fargo. I spend a day and a half (in North Dakota). His teammates love him. His coaching staff loves him."
From a football standpoint, in some ways the underrated aspect of Wentz's worth came from playing at a lower level, the autonomy he was given on the field.
"He has more freedom at the line of scrimmage for a college quarterback than just about anybody I've seen since Andrew Luck," Mayock said. "He changes the plays. He's never gotten a B in school. He's intelligent. He's got a great work ethic, he loved he game of football, and if you're talking about having a passion and being the face of the franchise, this is the kid."
Philadelphia, though, is quite the step up from Fargo.
"I do believe he'll handle Philadelphia because he'll work so hard and be so humble," Mayock stated. "I think the blue collar Philly fans are going to love him."
As much as the lunch-pail mentality is ingrained in Philly's collective conscience as a city, however, if the production doesn't match the work ethic, it's not going to matter and you don't have to look far to find an example of that.
If Wentz does go to Philadelphia as expected, two lockers down from him at the NovaCare Complex will be a former No. 1 overall pick, a can't-miss prospect that somehow missed badly in St. Louis due to both injury and ineffectiveness ... Sam Bradford.
"Here's the situation, when Bradford came out, there was a similar buzz," Mayock admitted. "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."
"I look at Carson Wentz, and I see a big, thick, athletic kid with an elite arm, all the intelligence in the world," Mayock said.
So are there any chinks in this armor?
"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," he said. "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."
And the summation?
"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."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973ESPN.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen