Summary: In the quarterback-hungry NFL, teams are willing to go far and wide to find their franchise quarterbacks. In recent years, some quarterbacks from smaller schools have had their names called in the first round of drafts. That group includes Joe Flacco (Delaware) and Blake Bortles (Central Florida), while this year's draft could feature two similar level programs producing first-rounders in Wentz and Memphis' Paxton Lynch. While other prospects like Lynch, Jared Goff, Cardale Jones and Christian Hackenberg have gotten a lot more attention, Wentz could easily be the first quarterback off the board.
Wentz was a backup in his first two seasons as North Dakota State won National Championships both seasons. Wentz kept the tradition going helping the program to win the title in the following two seasons after he became the starting quarterback. As a junior, Wentz completed 64 percent of his passes for 3,111 yard with 25 touchdowns and six interceptions. He had six touchdowns on the ground. In 2015, Wentz completed 64 percent of his passes for 1,669 yards with 16 touchdowns and two interceptions while missing six games with a broken wrist. He also had four rushing touchdowns.
From a skill-set perspective, Wentz is a legitimate "top half of the draft" prospect. He is an accurate passer who has the field vision to scan the field and distribute the ball. North Dakota State runs a pro-style system that saw Wentz making calls in the huddle and working under center.
There is no doubt that Wentz has an NFL arm that is strong and can really spin the football. He can make all the throws for the pro game. Wentz can load up and fire some fastballs into tight windows when he needs to. He also can put air underneath it and drop in touch passes. Wentz shows the pocket skill to stand tall, work through his progressions, and beat good coverage with well-placed passes into tight windows. Wentz's mechanics are solid and impressive for his lack of experience against top opponents given the lesser level of competition.
Wentz has good athleticism to scramble in the pocket, avoid sacks, pick up yards on the feet, and throw on the run. Mobility is a nice cherry on top for Wentz's game.
Sources from multiple teams have said they gave Wentz a first-round grade and think that he is the real deal. They say that Wentz has a good arm, size and athleticism, plus they love him off the field. They like his pocket presence, field vision, experience under center, ability to make play calls in the huddle, and his potential to grow in the NFL. One area scout also said that Wentz will fill out his frame in a NFL strength and conditioning program. That source said the big challenge for Wentz will be the drastic change in the speed of the game coming from North Dakota State's opponents compared to the NFL. Wentz also has a small size of starts to be evaluated from, but overall sources felt those concerns were minor.
In the 2016 NFL Draft, sources have said that Wentz could be the first quarterback off the board as high as No. 2 to the Browns. He looks very likely to go in the top 10.
Player Comparison: Blake Bortles. Wentz is a very unique player, so it is tough to find a comparison for him. In speaking with scouts, they feel the same way and think that his uniqueness sets him apart. Collectively, we felt that Wentz was an upgraded version of Bortles as a prospect. Wentz and Bortles have a similar skill set with size, arm strength and athleticism. However, Wentz has a bit more talent in every attribute. In terms of NFL effectiveness, I could see Wentz panning out and being a quarterback of a similar caliber to Matt Ryan or Joe Flacco.
NFL Matches: Cleveland, San Diego, Dallas, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Houston, New York Jets and Buffalo
There are a lot of teams in the NFL that are in need of a franchise quarterback. Cleveland's quarterback odyssey looks poised to continue. Sources say that Wentz is in play for the Browns' first-round pick and the Browns like him. Wentz would fit Hue Jackson well and has experience playing in a cold climate. He could be a great fit for Cleveland.
Sources say that San Diego really likes Wentz. Perhaps the Chargers will feel that he is too good to pass up. Philip Rivers is aging, so Wentz could be the future starter, but with the regime on the hot seat after just extending Rivers, it appears more likely that the Chargers would target a position player who can help them immediately.
The Cowboys could consider taking Wentz with the fourth-overall pick, or trading up to get him. That would be a great situation for Wentz to learn behind Tony Romo for a year or two while being developed by Jason Garrett (who coached Wentz at the Senior Bowl). However, it sounds like Dallas is more likely to grab a young veteran in free agency while using its first-rounder on an instant contributor who can help Dallas make a playoff run in 2016 with Romo and Dez Bryant back from injury.
In the NFC West, San Francisco is in the market for a starting quarterback. Wentz could fit Chip Kelly and the 49ers. Los Angeles appears ready to give up on Nick Foles, and the Rams continue to have a big need at quarterback. Sources say Wentz is Los Angeles' top quarterback.
Philadelphia is a wild card. The new regime is not locked in to Sam Bradford and could consider making a move to find a better starter. Either the Rams and Eagles would have to trade up for Wentz.
The lack of a quarterback is holding back the Texans, Bills, and Jets from seriously challenging in the AFC. All three teams would have to trade up to land Wentz. They have rosters capable of contending but need a long-term answers at quarterback, so they could be aggressive with giving up multiple picks to go get a player they believe can be their franchise quarterback.
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As the NFL Draft approaches, I will be making weekly adjustments up until the 27th of April. Rest of the writeups will be coming later this week. Any questions/comments/criticisms can be voiced in the comments. I will respond to all.