Wentz Wows in His Debut
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) — Carson Wentz easily cleared the first of what will be many hurdles if he plans on becoming what the Eagles envisioned as the second overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, a true franchise quarterback.
The small-town kid from Bismark was as advertised when he was introduced to the notoriously difficult Philadelphia media on Friday, poised, intelligent and grounded.
And in one 15-minute session the former North Dakota State star made it easy to understand what the Eagles saw in him as they mortgaged the organization's very future to move from No. 13 with a series of trades.
"I'm excited to be here today and real excited to go to work," Wentz said.
The 6-foot-5, strong-armed signal caller will continue to wear his signature No. 11 with the Eagles and will have his older brother, Zach, move with him to Philadelphia to help with the transition.
"Today's been really cool, Wentz said after arriving in Philadelphia and getting another look at the NovaCare Complex (he was in town a few weeks ago for one of the team's top-30 visits) and reuniting with the coaching staff that has been so interested in him dating back to the Senior Bowl.
"He seems awesome," Wentz said of Eagles first-year coach Doug Pederson. "A real player's coach, someone you can get along with and he seems like he knows a lot about football.
"With him and coach (Frank) Reich (the Eagles' offensive coordinator) and coach (John) DeFilippo (the team's QBs coach), there's a lot of quarterback knowledge here."
One of the under-reported aspects of the Eagles' pursuit of Wentz was the addition of so many people who've played the position at a high level and signed off on the former FCS star.
"I am just going to try to soak up as must knowledge as quick as I can from those guys," Wentz asserted.
Two different NFL sources tell 973espn.com that Pederson was particularly enamored with Wentz and tried to push the organization toward doing whatever it took to acquire him.
The coach highlighted that belief in the 23-year-old Thursday by comparing him to one of the all-time greats, soon to be Hall-of-Famer Brett Favre.
"I don't really pattern (my game) after one guy, but hearing that, I thought it was crazy because I grew up just rooting for Favre," Wentz said. "I just loved watching him, his toughness, his grittiness, and the energy he brings out there. I think those are things I like to model my game after, and just the fact that I enjoy it. I enjoy the game. I'm passionate about it.
"But then just some pieces from other people's games such as Tom Brady, the way he just dissects things and gets the ball out; Cam Newton, similar with just making plays, but the energy, how much fun he has out there; Aaron Rodgers just makes some unbelievable plays, can extend plays, total command of the field. Those are all things I kind of want to implement into my game, but really want to be my own player."
And that player grew up in an environment that bred winning as North Dakota State won five consecutive national championships.
"I think winning is huge," Wentz said. "I think winning solves a lot of problems in organizations and college programs, as well, and I think, like someone said Coach Pederson said, ‘I bleed winning,’ or whatever was the quote there. I think being around a winning environment will help translate into the NFL, as well."
And now it's off to the second hurdle.
"I'm antsy and I'm ready to go," Wentz said.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973ESPN.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen