North Dakota State redshirt senior quarterback Carson Wentz is one of the most physically talented quarterbacks in the 2016 NFL Draft class. Wentz possesses prototypical size for the position; weighing in at 6’5”, 237 lbs. with 10” hands at the scouting combine. He will turn 24 during his rookie season.
The first thing that stands out about Carson Wentz is his explosive, natural arm strength that allows him to get away with decisions other quarterbacks would regret. He shows no fear testing tight windows at all levels of the defense. Wentz’s throwing motion is smooth and quick as he displays the ability to change ball speeds and make touch throws down the field with accuracy. To go along with this, he also shows the ability to adjust his arm angle and throw from multiple platforms.
Wentz is very comfortable making throws up the seam and throwing on the run to the right and left comes naturally to him. His athletic ability is excellent as he is very powerful, twitchy, and difficult to bring down. Unlike many recent college quarterbacks, Wentz has experience playing from under center and turning his back to the defense in the play action game. He maintains a wide base in the pocket and shows comfort throwing the ball prior to his receiver’s break.
There are times when he will even throw receivers open on the sideline with back shoulder throws.
Wentz displays a tendency to stare down receivers at times and must improve on not giving tells to the defense on where he is going with the ball. While this worked in college, it will lead to interceptions and defensed passes against bigger, faster, more sophisticated defenses at the next level. Wentz predetermines throws from time to time rather than reading coverage pre and post-snap.
Rather than anticipating and throwing into windows in the defense, he shows a tendency to wait to see receivers come open before pulling the trigger. This leads me to believe that Wentz does not consistently process information quickly on the field and although there are times when he uses his eyes well to manipulate defenders, he must do so with more consistency.
While he displays the ability to read the entire field at times, he does not do so with any type of consistency. When his primary receiver is not initially open, he sometimes resorts to scrambling from clean pockets rather than patiently surveying the defense and finding his next option. Wentz has a habit of locking on to his primary receiver and has trouble adjusting on the fly.
When defenses confuse him, he shows a tendency to hesitate and force throws into traffic. To be successful at the next level, he must become more comfortable reading through progressions with consistency. While he is typically an accurate passer, ball placement suffers at times when coming off his primary receiver and throwing to secondary options.
When facing pressure, Wentz does not always step into throws to transfer his weight and this leads to inaccurate throws off his back foot. With this being said, his toughness is admirable as there were quite a few times when he stood in the pocket and made throws down the field while taking big hits. Finding hot receivers and utilizing check down options with more consistency would help Wentz better deal with pressure.
Overall, Carson Wentz has everything that NFL coaches are looking for in a quarterback from a physical standpoint. He has great size, arm strength, touch, and athletic ability. The question is how much progress Wentz can make in improving on the nuances of the position and becoming a more consistent player. The little things, such as showing better eye discipline, becoming more comfortable checking off his primary receiver, and staring down his intended target are where he must improve most if he wishes to develop into a successful NFL quarterback.
With his 24th birthday falling near the end of the 2016 season, it is fair to wonder how ingrained Wentz’s playing habits are and how much will change with time. Even if he sits on the bench to start his career, he is eventually going to have to play and if the bad habits resurface, he may have trouble staying on the field.
When all is said and done, I believe Carson Wentz has the potential to develop into a very good NFL quarterback, but it will take great coaching and much improvement on the nuances of playing the position. In the event that this does not take place, Wentz will be best served as a backup quarterback. While I view it as a risk, if Hue Jackson is confident that he can coach the bad habits out of Wentz and help him become a more consistent player, he should be under consideration for the 2nd pick of the 2016 NFL Draft.