Leading up to the NFL draft on April 28-30, NFL Films' Greg Cosell will be sharing his views on many of the top prospects based on his extensive film study of those players.
Andrew Luck was considered a rare prospect, and as such, people are hesitant to compare other high-level prospects to Luck.
I believe Carson Wentz is a high-level prospect, my top quarterback in this draft class, and I think the comparison to Luck is valid.
What happens down the road in any prospect’s career is pure speculation, and how Wentz does in the NFL is a product of many variables. So I don’t know how Wentz's NFL career will compare to what Luck has done or will continue to do. But I see many similarities between the two quarterbacks.
Like Luck, Wentz is smart. He was a 4.0 student at North Dakota State. Physically, the two are similar, and we’ll get to that in a bit. One thing that stood out to me about Wentz is his poise in critical moments. That reminds me of Luck as well.
Wentz, with his team trailing 28-24 against Northern Iowa last season, led a late drive and threw a game-winning touchdown in the final minute. He converted a couple key fourth downs and showed outstanding poise and composure. It was an excellent combination of patience and aggressiveness. (Move ahead to 11:24 of the video below to watch him lead the game-winning drive.)
Physically there’s a lot to like about Wentz too, and there are more reminders of Luck. Wentz is a very good athlete for a 6-foot-5, 237-pound quarterback (Wentz is actually a smoother-looking athlete than Luck because his body type is different: he is longer and leaner than Luck despite weighing 237 pounds). He has an awareness of how to play the position, like Luck. He has the ability to drive the ball when the throw demands it, as Luck does.
Wentz has very good arm strength. He is a tight, compact, easy thrower for a big quarterback. The ball comes out with velocity. Wentz can clearly drive the ball, which is a result of a strong core and lower body.
Wentz isn’t just a fastball thrower. He has showed the refinement to throw with touch and pace when demanded. He can make firm, touch seam throws that are part of NFL passing games. He showed an excellent feel for the different kinds of throws that are necessary for the situation.
There were other things I liked about Wentz when I watched the film: He had an excellent command of the offense, controlling the game at the line of scrimmage when needed with a lot of audibles and checks. He excelled in a structured passing game that asked him to make progression reads and difficult NFL-type throws. All of that will help in his transition to the pro game.
He also is a good runner. There were times when the NDSU offense looked like the Carolina Panthers offense with its multiple backfield actions and run game dimensions. Here’s a quarterback run behind the fullback that went for a touchdown:
And another read-option run:
If a team decides to use Wentz as a regular part of their running game, as the Panthers do with Cam Newton, he has the ability to excel in that role.
Wentz has many skills you like to see, but that doesn't necessarily mean he'll be an NFL success. Going back to the Luck example, even though the assumption was that Luck’s decision making wouldn’t be a problem in the NFL because of his high-level intelligence, he hasn’t been a consistently good decision maker in the pros — that’s a part of Luck’s game he must continue to work on. So it’s always tough to project any prospect, no matter the position. There’s a lot of variables involved in becoming a high-level NFL player, especially at quarterback.
I can only tell you what I’ve seen on tape from the prospects going into the draft. And what I’ve seen from Wentz is pretty good. He's my No. 1 quarterback in this draft.
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NFL analyst and NFL Films senior producer Greg Cosell watches as much NFL game film as anyone. Throughout the season, Cosell will join Shutdown Corner to share his observations on the teams, schemes and personnel from around the league.