In-Depth NFL Draft Analysis: #2 Carson Wentz

This is not your typical mock draft.  It’s intended to be a cross between a mock draft and an NFL Breakdown article breaking down prospects.  Much more time will be spent discussing the prospects and the pros, cons and other tidbits about them. Earlier this week, we did an analysis of our predicted first overall pick, Laremy Tunsil. That being said let’s dive right in!

With the second pick of the NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns select Carson Wentz, quarterback out of North Dakota State. 

After yet another failed quarterback experiment in Johnny Manziel, Cleveland is once again a team in shambles. They have needs all over the field, and there are several directions the Browns could go with this pick. They could take advantage of the once in a generation talent available in the secondary and give a partner to corner Joe Haden. They could grab someone to bolster the offensive line. They could even go best player available and take local pass rusher Joey Bosa. However, the biggest need the Browns have by far is at the quarterback position.

Cleveland may have signed Robert Griffin III, but he’s not expected to be a franchise QB, and he’s more of a reclamation attempt. The Browns need a franchise QB moving forward in order to turn the team around, both on the field talent-wise, and off the field in terms of bringing back optimism to one of the most downtrodden fan bases in all of sports. There are three quarterbacks that the Browns could choose with the second pick, which are Carson Wentz out of North Dakata State, Jared Goff out of Cal and Paxton Lynch out of Memphis. So why is Carson Wentz our choice here?

Carson Wentz is an FCS prospect, and might be discounted significantly by some sports pundits because of that. But there is a reason why he overcomes that bias to be considered a top three pick. Wentz has the physical tools to be a very successful NFL quarterback. He has a cannon arm, has good pocket presence, is a very accurate passer and is mobile enough to run around the pocket, evade sacks and give himself extra time to make the throw. Mentally, he has a great football IQ, and has been known to be humble, which would make the leap from FCS to the NFL a lot easier.

In North Dakota State, he ran a pro style offensive system, and thrived under the center. This is arguably his biggest edge over his competition to be the top QB in the draft. Jared Goff runs a high octane college offense in Cal, and Paxton Lynch is still a raw prospect who might not be fully ready for the pro style offense in his first year. Despite the lack of NFL talent around him, all Wentz did was win, and he won two national titles as a starter and had three losses as a starter.

This college pedigree gave Wentz a first round grade, but it was his Senior Bowl performance and Combine performance that put him in the conversation as the second overall pick. Teams in need of a QB saw that Wentz wasn’t merely a product of poor competition in the FCS or a small sample size, and saw that he could be a legitimate franchise QB. The Browns especially fell in love with Wentz, and they called him an absolute stud. He also fits what Hue Jackson wants to do on offense, and as a proven cold weather quarterback, Wentz shouldn’t have as much trouble adjusting his game to the pros. Given how desperate the Browns are for some change, drafting Carson Wentz could be the catalyst to finally bring some optimism to Cleveland.

Here’s a highlight video of Carson Wentz, and from there you can see the biggest strengths of the Bison QB. He can get tough passes into the smallest of windows, and he’s an adept runner as well. He can throw a decent deep ball as well, and deliver it as accurately as a simple five yard slant. Here are some highlights from the Scouting Combine showing off his accuracy and mechanics, and it shows why Wentz had such a meteoric rise from a relatively unknown FCS quarterback to becoming a top three player in this year’s draft.

Overall, I believe that the Browns will pull the trigger on Carson Wentz and take him second overall due to positional need, college career, physical tools, and his intangibles as a winner and a learner. The Browns will need to tread carefully with Wentz and be patient with him as he develops. He might have a slow first year adjusting to the speed of the NFL and working around the lack of offensive weapons on the Browns. But Cleveland needs to be patient (a hard ask given its history) and allow Wentz to develop. In terms of a pro comparison, Wentz is most similar to Blake Bortles and Joe Flacco. Both of those QBs are from small schools and they have found success with a playing style similar to Wentz. Flacco is Mr. January and has a ring, while Bortles is a gunslinger and had a sophomore leap with 35 touchdowns. Wentz brings that skills set along with running ability and great footwork. I think if the Browns play this right, they might finally end their search for a franchise quarterback.

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