The Eagles have taken their chance.
Carson Wentz is officially a member of Philadelphia Eagles after the quarterback from North Dakota State was selected with the second pick in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft on Thursday.
Wentz is the 40th quarterback in franchise history to be drafted, dating back when the Eagles selected Davey O’Brien fourth overall in 1939.
O’Brien lasted just two years in the NFL. Howie Roseman and Doug Pederson hope Wentz lasts a tad longer.
“There are unique opportunities where you have to take chances to be great,” Roseman recently told NBC Sports. “One great player can change a team.”
Wentz is just the fifth quarterback the team has ever taken in the first round, and the first since selecting Donovan McNabb second overall in 1999. Roseman had been clear since he moved the Eagles from 13th in the first round to eighth and then to second that he was looking to take a chance on a player that can turn the franchise into a Super Bowl winner.
The Eagles are taking one helluva chance on Wentz, ostensibly trading eight players—including active players and future draft picks—to move up to the second spot to take Wentz. Rated anywhere from the top player in the draft to outside the top 10 by NFL pundits and draft gurus around the league, Wentz comes to Philadelphia light on NFL-caliber experience, but heavy on professional confidence.
“I’ve shown that I’m a winner,” Wentz told John Clark of CSN Philly in advance of the draft. “I think I show a lot of intangibles that people might not see. I think my physical ability speaks for itself. I do a lot of things behind the scenes in terms of my leadership and my intelligence that can really make myself a great quarterback going forward.”
Wentz certainly is a winner, leading the NDSU Bison to the FCS national championship in back-to-back seasons. A participant in the 2016 Senior Bowl, Wentz played in just eight games his senior season after suffering a wrist injury that required surgery on his throwing arm. Still, he completed 63 percent of his passes—130 for 208—with 17 touchdowns and four interceptions, adding another six rushing touchdowns, while averaging more 4.7 yards per carry in 2015.
Wentz accounted for 1,945 yards of total offense in those eight games, including 276 yards and three scores in a 37-10 victory over Jacksonville State in the FCS national title game.
In his career, Wentz put up more than 6,100 yards of total offense in just 43 games, nearly 20 of which were in mop-up duty as an underclassman. In his 24 games as the starter as NDSU, in 2014 and 2015, Wentz put up 4,762 passing yards and 42 touchdowns to 14 interceptions for the Bison, adding 12 rushing touchdowns, and one receiving, over the two-year span.
His stats are fine, but his intangibles—his heart, toughness and intelligence—are what people keep saying set him apart. NDSU head coach Chris Klieman talked to 92.3 The Fan about Wentz’s potential in the NFL:
“I know one thing with Carson, the stage will never be too big for that kid. He’s really grounded, but he’s a really confident young man and he’ll have great success.”
“He’s a competitive sonofagun and he doesn’t want to lose at anything…that will really drive and fuel him.”
Wentz will be eternally linked to Jared Goff, the California product who was selected first overall by the Rams. This draft marks just the ninth time two quarterbacks were taken with the first two picks of the NFL Draft, yet just the second time the draft started with two quarterbacks going off the board first in back-to-back seasons. (Coincidentally, the Eagles have been involved in both, taking Donovan McNabb second overall in 1999. If Roseman and Pederson hope Wentz ends up better than Davey O’Brien, they—and the entire Eagles franchise—would be well suited to hope Wentz’s career more closely resembles McNabb’s.)
Wentz and Goff have been atop every quarterback ranking since the Senior Bowl. Mike Mayock of the NFL Network not only rates Wentz as his top quarterback–over Goff–but as his top rated player in the entire draft, comparing him to Andrew Luck.
ESPN’s Todd McShay said, “Wentz comes with great intangibles and is a naturally accurate thrower. Pairing him with QB guru Doug Pederson would aid Wentz’s steep learning curve as he transitions from the FCS. Mel Kiper said Wentz has “a skill set that many teams love, and Philly got into the right place to take him.”
So really, nobody has any idea, but the guy seems like a good quarterback who has the toughness Philly fans will really like. Is that enough to do what they did to move up to the second pick in the draft? Only time will tell.
Wentz is the 21st first-round selection for the Eagles in the Jeffrey Lurie era. With what the team gave up to get him, Eagles fans are surely hoping he ends up the best.