About a month ago, I had this grand idea when I was forming the opening for my Jared Goff scouting report. The idea was to spend most of my time bashing Mike Mayock, Daniel Jeremiah, and the other studio scouts at the NFL Network for promoting Carson Wentz as the #1 Qb in this year’s class.
That was the idea.
I took my time writing what I thought to be a humorous, yet purposeful opening. I was all ready to print the damn thing when my conscience suddenly spoke to me. It said: What if you’re wrong about Carson? So rather than be a hack, I did my due diligence with Mr. Wentz.
Listening to your conscience will rarely, if ever, force you into making a bad decision — so I listened. I had to conclude my evaluations on both Jared Goff and Carson Wentz before I were to print Goff’s scouting report. Since I believed Goff was the best Qb prospect in this year’s class, Carson Wentz had to wow me in his evaluation process — and that’s exactly what he did.
Before I get into the particulars, let me quickly explain my process …
When evaluating the quarterbacks, I initially go directly to a rankings page (usually CBSsportsline) and I start at the top. Whomever the top Qb prospect is on their list, that is where I begin with mine. I then go to that Qb’s game logs and I pick the worst statistical game that exists on their resume, then I watch the film of that game.
The reason why I choose to begin with the worst statistical game is simple: The great Qb’s can handle adversity.
I’m looking at everything from decision-making to body language in those games, gauging whether they can make a successful leap into the pros — especially if they land in a less than ideal situation, which you know and I know will likely be their situation as probable top-10 picks.
Given my limited resources, the worst game that I could find on Carson Wentz was the October 17, 2015, home matchup versus the South Dakota Coyotes.
It wasn’t a terrible showing for Carson, but it definitely wasn’t good, either.
It wasn’t until later in his evaluation that I discovered Carson had sustained a broken wrist in the 1st quarter of the game — an injury that he played with for three and a half quarters. Although Carson’s accuracy was erratic, post-injury, he did finish the game playing with a broken wrist — on his throwing hand — displaying exemplary leadership and toughness qualities in a narrow Bison defeat. Needless to say that my opinion on Carson had swayed quite a bit.
I was now in the direction of being highly impressed with this FCS Quarterback. He’s a star in the waiting, as far as I’m concerned. The more tape that I watched of his, the more that I was steadfast in my evaluation.
At first, I was guilty of forming an early opinion of Carson based on absolutely nothing — nothing more than the opinions of others, that is. Now I have my own opinion of him. So before I delve any further into my Carson Wentz scouting report, here’s a quick look at my grading scale.
» For a deeper look at my grading system, click on this link
Player Attribute Grades:
1 = Poor | 2 = Subpar | 3 = Sufficient
4 = Proficient | 5 = Exceptional
Player Projection Grades:
1 = Journeyman Qb | 2 = Reliable Backup
3 = Average Starter | 4 = Franchise Qb | 5 = Club Elite
Carson Wentz Scouting Report
Carson Wentz | North Dakota St. | Rs Senior
Height/Weight: 6’5″ | 237 Lbs.
Player Projection: Andrew Luck
Player Comparison: Aaron Rodgers
2015 » Jacksonville St, N. Dakota, S. Dakota, S. Dakota St, N. Iowa, Weber St, Montana
2014 » S. Dakota St, Sam Houston St, Coastal Carolina, Illinois St, Iowa St.
Player Attribute Grades
Accuracy 1–10 yards: 5.0
Accuracy 11–20 yards: 4.0
Accuracy 21–30 yards: 4.0
Accuracy on the Move: 5.0
Anticipation Throws: 3.0
Throwing Velocity: 5.0
Throwing Distance: 5.0
Throwing Touch: 5.0
› Final Grade: 4.6
Upper Body: 3.0
Lower Body: 3.0
Release Time: 5.0
› Final Grade: 3.7
Football Instincts: 5.0
Pre-snap Awareness: 5.0
Post-snap Awareness: 3.0
Pocket Awareness: 3.0
Decision Making: 3.0
Information Recall: 5.0
› Final Grade: 4.0
Work Ethic: 5.0
› Final Grade: 5.0
Play Extension: 4.0
Running Mobility: 4.0
› Final Grade: 3.7
(1) Physical and (1) Mental
Durability: 2.0 (Physical)
Toughness: 5.0 (Mental)
› Toughness graded with intangibles
› Durability graded into total physical grade
• Arm Talent: 4.6
• Mechanics: 3.7
• Athleticism: 3.7
• Durability: 2.0
› Final Grade: 3.5
• Intelligence: 4.0
• Intangibles: 5.0
› Final Grade: 4.5
Player Projection Grade: 4.0
» Face of the Franchise Quarterback
When studying Carson Wentz on film, you can’t help but to be marveled at what you see. Several of things show up on tape, but the one consistent attribute that shines the brightest for Carson is his throwing ability …
///// Carson Wentz has ELITE arm talent /////
Trust me, I realize just how loosely the term “arm talent” is thrown around by the experts. However, I only slap the “elite” tag on a prospect if it is truly warranted. I was higher than everyone on Derek Carr in the 2014 pre-draft process. Why? Simple: Derek has elite arm talent.
From a franchise Qb perspective, Derek is the total package, so he graded highly in several of other areas as well. But Derek’s best attribute, without question, is his throwing ability.
As you can see, Carson Wentz also grades out highly in several of key areas. He’s the total package, in my opinion. As much as I love Jared Goff and believe in him as a prospect, he simply just doesn’t have the elite throwing ability that Carson Wentz has. Carson can make any throw in any situation, and he makes it look rather easy.
In regard to his accuracy, Carson displays rare ball placement at all levels of the field. The thing that makes this part of his game special to me is, Carson can shred a defense even when his intended target is well-covered. It’s one thing to see a quarterback make a beautiful throw when a receiver has separation. But can you display that same ability versus tight coverage on a 12-yard dig route on 3rd & 10? This is what separates quarterbacks in the big leagues. Based on my film study, Carson’s accuracy is very consistent.
I log countless hours of film study when I’m evaluating a quarterback that I believe to be special, and Carson’s evaluation was no different. I watched the same X amount of games over and over again, studying all of the different elements of my Qb grading system. I ask questions and I find the answers through film study, no matter how long that process takes me.
Having said that, the answers came quickly with Carson in the throwing column of his evaluation.
I don’t get into a pissing contest with arm strength, though. Many see a guy like Colin Kaepernick throw the ball hard then think he’s got a bazooka for an arm. There’s no questioning Kaepernick’s arm strength, because he does have a power arm — but that doesn’t impress me. The problem with power-throwers like Kaepernick is they lack the ability to change speeds appropriately, to throw with touch and subtlety when needed. Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford and Joe Flacco — these guys have power arms, but they take speed off the ball when required to do so. The same is true about Carson Wentz. He can reach any receiver down the field with ease. He can also fit a fireball into a catcher’s mitt-sized window at any depth.
Carson consistently puts beautiful spin on the ball as well, displaying excellent rpm’s on tight-window throws and great trajectory and touch on his deep ball. More importantly, he can take enough heat off the ball when needed. I’ve seen him throw soft and accurate when needed and I’ve seen him throw smoke. Whatever the situation requires, Carson recognizes and adjusts to it like a talented artist. From an arm talent perspective, these are the qualities that make him a special Qb prospect.
I don’t want to spend too much time here, because time is not on my side. I feel that Carson’s mechanics are smooth and clean, for the most part. He has quick, bouncy feet and he sets very quickly in his drop-back. The only bone to pick with Carson, in regard to his mechanics, is his footwork consistency. Carson occasionally stares down his intended target, and when he does this his feet get lazy and remain in a standstill, which lead to errant throws. I’ve read scouting reports that suggest his footwork is inconsistent but I disagree. Overall, this is his weakest mechanical area — but I’m comfortable with his footwork, based on the tape that I’ve watched of him. I believe that he’ll get coached up and he’ll improve upon his footwork in the pros.
His upper body mechanics and his release are mostly clean. He has a classic, over the top, compact throwing motion. I originally had a 5.0 grade on his upper body mechanics, but after watching the Gruden Camp special this week, I shaved a point from his total — the reason being is his ball protection issues.Carson has a tendency to hold the ball loosely in the pocket, exposing it with one hand when he’s not on time with the ball. He leaves the ball exposed to defenders closing in, offering easy turnover opportunities, which will surely haunt him at the next level.
This is a bad instinctual habit of Carson’s, something that he must fix. I did notice this habit of his on tape but I factored it into his decision making grade. In giving this further thought, I decided that this is as much a mechanical issue as it is a decision making problem. Other than that, Carson is special in other areas of his upper body mechanics. His noticeably quick release shows up consistently on tape. What I like the most, though, is his use of differing arm angles. Carson is innately skilled at throwing from a number of arm slots. He can naturally adjust his motion — no matter the situation. He’s a natural thrower of the football, and it’s never more obvious than when things break down in the pocket and he reacts instinctively with a 15-yard dart from a 3/4 arm slot while on the move.
I have to be honest here, I expected to see Carson run in the 4.6–4.7 range in the 40-yard dash in Indy. Like I mentioned in my Jared Goff scouting report, I’ve been around long enough to know better than to concern myself with measurables and Combine numbers when forming my Qb evaluations.
The NFL Combine is an underwear Olympic testing that was designed for track athletes.
But, I must admit, it was rather surprising to see the results of Wentz’ testing. Overall, he was slightly better than average — by stopwatch and yardstick standards — well, mostly. His 6.86_3-cone time was mighty impressive and represents his natural foot quickness and agility that you see on film.
Though Wentz isn’t a track athlete, he’s still an unbelievably fluid athlete in pads. Like I mentioned, he has incredibly nimble feet and good short area quickness for being so tall. I believe that its fair to question if what I see on tape is a result of the inferior athleticism that surrounded him at the FCS level. I certainly factored that into my athletic grades, but I think its safe to project his athleticism where I have it.
As a play extender, Carson has it all. He can make a lot of things happen on athleticism and instincts alone. Given that he’s six-foot five-inches tall, he moves around like a much smaller athlete. He has a great, athletic build with good, lean muscle definition. He kind of has a surfer-like build, in my opinion.
Wentz is a well proportioned athlete that goes hard in the gym — and it shows.
The part of his game that worked really well for him at the collegiate level but that he’ll have to alter in the pros is his mobility as a runner. In my scouting opinion, this is the single most highlighted area of Carson’s game where his success was mostly a result of the level of competition.
Does he still offer a team dual-threat ability in the pros? No question. But, he’ll quickly realize how much faster and stronger the NFL athletes are, and he’ll have no choice but to adjust to it. Overall, he’s no Cam Newton. But, much like Andrew Luck, Wentz’ size and athleticism can provide an offense a great red-zone/short yardage package. He has a natural runners instinct, with good patience and vision. Whether tucking and running on a broken 3rd and long or running Qb power on 2nd & Goal, Carson’s size and athleticism make him unique as a quarterback.
Much has been made about the pro-style offense that Carson played in at North Dakota State. He’s taken the pro-style drops from under center that Jared Goff hasn’t. It doesn’t mean that Jared can’t do it, but it definitely gives Carson an edge in his evaluation profile.
I compared Carson Wentz to Ben Roethlisberger in my first go-around. But the more tape that I watched of Carson, the more clear it became that Mike Mayock finally got one right. Andrew Luck is as good a player projection that I could find for Carson — specifically because of these particular elements:
- They share similar size, build and athleticism qualities.
- They both showed command under center — at the collegiate level — in an advanced pro-style offense.
The whole “West Coast Offense” label has taken a life of its own over the last 15–20 years. So many coaches cut their teeth in this system, therefore it’s become an altered, multi-faceted version of what it originally was. The Bison coaching staff ran their version of the West Coast, and in watching it on film I was reminded of Alex Smith and the current Kansas City Chiefs offense.
Carson is very familiar with play-action concepts. On tape, this was his comfort zone. He moves so fluidly and naturally. He’s excellent at selling the play-fake and he’s extremely accurate on the move. Countless times I saw backers and Db’s biting on his action, and Carson made them pay deep more often than not.Andrew Luck excelled under the same circumstances while at Stanford, and I believe that NFL coaches and fans will fall in love with this element of Carson’s game.
Much has equally been made of Carson’s ability to audible at the line of scrimmage.
Everybody knows — or at least they should know — that there’s book smarts … then there’s football smarts. A quarterback doesn’t have to have both in order to be successful at the next level. However, Carson does have both. Carson is an extremely intelligent person. He’s maintained a 4.0 GPA from high school throughout college. From what I can see, and what his coaches had to say about him, Carson is extremely smart in the football classroom as well. This mental gift of his has allowed him to control things at the line of scrimmage in the pre snap phase of the game: protections, play-adjustments, kills, hot reads, alerts — Carson displayed total command of his offense in this area of QB intelligence, thanks to his ability to diagnose.
He’s equally good in the post-snap phase, displaying an understanding and recognition of coverages. He’s aware of where the passing lanes are and he rarely forces the ball into congested areas.
Carson also has good pocket awareness. He can feel pressure well, stepping up or sliding out of the pocket to reset his launch-point whenever necessary. He isn’t perfect in this area, and again, the level of competition has to play a factor here, but he generally displayed a good feel for playing both in and out of the pocket. But just because a quarterback shows the ability to feel pressure doesn’t make it a strong suit in his scouting report.
Too often for my personal liking I was reminded of Andrew Luck when evaluating Carson’s decision making ability. The biggest flaw in Carson’s evaluation is his tendency to hold onto the football. It was clear to me that Carson fostered the attitude that he could make any play on the field, at any time. Don’t get me wrong, he made good decisions with the football more often than not. But, old habits die hard. I have real concerns regarding this area of his game. However, I do believe that he can be coached out of this destructive mentality.
To be clear, this isn’t just a pocket problem. When Carson holds onto the football, he either buys extra time to throw or he searches for running lanes and flees the pocket as a carrier. Either way, his mentality can often be described as destructive when he’s not quick with the ball right from the snap.
Outside of the pocket, Carson showed no fear in taking defenders head on if he had to. He makes no qualms about it. If he couldn’t make a defender miss, he simply put his head down and kept his legs moving. The smart quarterbacks find out real fast that they must adjust their strategy once they leave the pocket in the pros. Blake Bortles and Andrew Luck have made adjustments early in their careers. Andrew still takes unnecessary blows on occasion, and he’s learning the hard way from the repercussions of that mentality. It’s a stubbornness driven by an ultra-competitive spirit, and, unfortunately, I see this very trait in 3-D with Carson.
Coaches and evaluators get excited over different things when it comes to quarterbacks. Me: I get overly excited with the physical traits. But trust me, I fully understand just how important the intangibles are when evaluating these college Qb’s for the next level.
When I know for certain that a quarterback is genuine and that he has special gifts, intangibly, it makes my evaluation easy (when combined with his physical gifts) … Take Russell Wilson for example:
I’ve never been more certain of a college quarterback’s future success at the pro level than I was with Russell. By the time I sifted through all of the research on him, it was crystal clear that he would be a star in a short amount of time, and that his height would not be an issue for him whatsoever.
How could I be so certain you ask? Simple: His physical ability was special. But his intangibles, his desire to be great, his leadership, his work ethic, etc, etc — these were the traits that put the stamp of validation on his scouting report, from my point of view.
And in doing my own research on Carson Wentz, my instincts tell me that he’s also special, from an intangible standpoint. Again, this is an arbitrary thing in the scouting community. You could find twenty differing opinions of the same exact player from twenty different scouts — that was the case with Russell Wilson. His lack of height prevented some from following their gut instinct, and the rest is history.
Russell’s hurdle was height, or lack thereof. Carson’s hurdle is barely existent, if it exists at all. But if there is a hurdle amongst the decision makers, it’s the small school factor that may come into play with Carson — although it only takes one organization to call his name. And they will call his name early on draft day, because Carson is the total package.
But it’s Carson’s outstanding intangible qualities that have propelled him from a 2nd round grade/small school/athletic/accurate/big armed Qb prospect, to a legit franchise Qb prospect deserving of the #1 overall selection.
As you can see, I’m as much excited about Carson Wentz as I am Jared Goff. I’m confident that both quarterbacks will go on to have successful careers as true franchise cornerstones.
From a individual standpoint, the sky is the limit for Carson Wentz. His arm talent is truly special. He has unique throwing ability. But you can’t become great on just talent alone — which is why I’m certain that Carson is destined for greatness. His scores in the intangibles portion are simply perfect. He’s highly intelligent, and he’s football smart.
If you want to know why quarterbacks like Ryan Leaf, Vince Young, Matt Leinart, JaMarcus Russell, Josh Freeman, Blaine Gabbert and EJ Manuel have all flamed out — I’ll simply point to their lack of quality intangibles.
Its black and white to me.
Also, many 1st round Qb’s have entered the league with great intangible scores but failed to succeed for a combination of other reasons. From organizational disfunction to a lack of player development to succumbing to the pressure and high expectations — 1st round quarterbacks will inevitably fail in the big leagues.
However, I see a high ceiling and a low floor for Carson Wentz.
Teams are getting smarter and smarter. The more data that we have on the draft (with quarterbacks in particular) the better decisions can be made going forward. To me, the quarterback draft history speaks volumes on just how important the position is. It also tells a story about the hard reality that is the NFL: If you’re lucky enough to have drafted a good quarterback, then life is good. Jobs are safe and people are happy.
On the other hand, the organizations that don’t have a good quarterback, they’re miserable each and every year that they remain without one … which, in turn, makes them desperate for happiness … so they reach for a quarterback in the first round, using the opportunity to potentially save their jobs. Carson Wentz is the exception to the rule. He’s a legit franchise quarterback prospect. In four or five years, he’ll likely be talked about in the same high regard that we speak of with Aaron Rodgers: A smart, confident, mobile quarterback with the ability to make any throw on the field seem ridiculously easy on TV.
My player projection is Andrew Luck but my player comparison is Aaron Rodgers. In my own mind, I see Carson as a unique blend of both quarterbacks. Carson will not have the luxury of sitting and learning behind a Hall of Fame quarterback for three years though — that’s something that you can rubber stamp, as well. Aaron Rodgers was drafted into a very unique situation. The Packers were building a talented roster, one that was blossoming by the time he was ready to lead them. As a backup quarterback, Aaron had three years to hone his craft, void of expectation and pressure.
Andrew Luck’s situation was inherently different. If I were to split the qualities of the two and compare them to Carson Wentz, I would say that Carson has Aaron’s natural play extension ability — as well as his rare throwing ability — but he has Andrew’s build, his aggressive nature and his habit of taking on hits. It’s an interesting combination of both players.
The only thing that I foresee standing in the way of Carson’s potential is his durability concerns. He’s only started two years at the collegiate level and he’s been bumped and bruised in one of those years, while missing more than half of the other year with a broken wrist on his throwing hand.
Carson just seems to get in his own way at times; he has the tendency to be his own worst enemy. He has an aggressive style of running where he’s constantly falling head first. Carson played baseball in high school, yet I can tell you without knowing for certain that he’s never slid into a bag feet first.
Carson must take to coaching in the NFL, and he must adopt a safer approach when he becomes a runner — if he intends on having a long, productive NFL career. The problem with that is, who knows if he’s even capable of truly changing this ugly habit. I sure as hell don’t know. But, he’s still very much worth the top overall selection, and certainly any place thereafter.
I believe that Carson has the body type to handle bumps and bruises and the toughness to play through them. It’s the knockout blows that worry me most: concussions, collarbones, wrists, spleens and kidneys — he puts himself in danger of this kind of bodily harm with his current mindset as a competitor.
With the huge trade up from #15, I believe that the Rams are intent on selecting Carson Wentz with the #1 pick. They have a team that’s perfectly built for his personality and style of play. They have a strong running game with a young, aggressive O-line and a suffocating defense on the other side of the ball — now they just need to continue to build around Carson … if he is indeed their pick.