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2016 NFL Draft: NDSU QB Carson Wentz Scouting Report

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Can Wentz keep his draft momentum going all the way to the top?

carson wentz Scouting Report

I was all set to post up a Carson Wentz scouting report a few nights ago. I'd done my homework, watching some of his games last year and his pro day. I had formed my opinions, made my arguments and was all ready to drop a gif-load of analysis on everyone.

Then this happened.

Needless to say, the Rams moving up to the top pick overall changes things quite a bit. It appears it's murky between Goff or Wentz, but one of them is going to be the pick. Wentz is the last QB of the 'big three' to analyze (I put out a scouting report on Goff in November and Paxton Lynch's report went up a few days ago).

accuracy

Wentz is somewhat of an enigma on the accuracy front. He displays the ability to make short-to-intermediate throws that are the lifeblood of a league quarterback.


This is a textbook throw. Wentz takes a shotgun snap and immediately looks to the streaking receiver running a slant in the middle of the field - but he's covered. The deep ball is also well covered by the two deep zone backs, so he takes a shot at the intermediate corner route. It's a very well placed ball on the outside shoulder of the receiver.

These are the type of throws that are impressive, but expected of a top quarterback.

You'll notice if you watch Wentz - sometimes he will throw off his back foot - even on shorter throws. When he steps through, he's normally quite accurate on throws within twenty yards or so. Wentz has shown the ability to put a nice touch on the ball get over the defenders head. It all depends on if he's set or not.

Now let's talk about the deep ball. Make no mistake - Wentz has a big arm. Wentz has that highlight throw ability and that's what has him in the conversation for the number one overall pick. But if you dig a little deeper, things get a little ugly.

The first thing you notice about Wentz is that he's ignoring the top half of the field. He's solely focused on his deep routes to the bottom of the field. Wentz never notices that as the back slips out of protection into the flat; he's wide open for an easy dump off. Second, Wentz also doesn't notice the safety waiting over the top that is completely aware of where he's going to throw the ball.

Finally, Wentz doesn't lead the receiver (or throw to the outside receiver, who's also wide open), which is perhaps the biggest problem. If that ball is thrown to the outside, it's highly doubtful that safety sitting in the middle of the field is going to get the ball. It's an easy touchdown. Instead, it was a pick six.

This play is one of many that gives the impression Wentz still has a long way to go in identifying coverage schemes.

progressions

This is one of the areas where Wentz needs to improve significantly. I'm not sure if it's partly due to the offense he ran in; if plays were designed so that he made few reads - or there is a targeted receiver and they're just timing it - but he has a tendency to lock on to targets.

The end result below is a touchdown and Wentz does a good job of timing the throw so that the receiver catches it as soon as he finds the gap in the zone coverage (something he does quite well), but I'm not sure if Wentz eyeballing a wide-out for three seconds in the red-zone will work in the NFL.


Mental handicaps are some of the toughest to break, so this is concerning for a top pick. Whether you're a fan of gun slinging quarterbacks or not is a personal taste, but you can't give a defensive back in the NFL a free pass to know where you're going to throw the ball before it's out of your hands.


Here's another example. Wentz takes a quick look at the bottom the field (I'm not even sure it counts as a look because the receivers haven't finished running their routes) and locks on to the deep target on the top half of the field. The safety over the top is immediately able to identify this because he's already there when the ball arrives.

This again is a scenario where I think the talent jump will cause serious problems for Wentz until he can fix this. After going through most of his games in 2015, it was a common sight to see him ignore half the field in passing situations.

ground game

Wentz is the most 'dual-threat' quarterback out of himself, Paxton Lynch and Jared Goff. That's a good thing; he seems to enjoy running the ball and he's good at it for someone his size. NDSU would typically run a few designated run plays in addition to the standard fare of options and the like, and for the most part it would work out.

Wentz isn't exactly easy to take down. He's more of a bulldozer than a dancer, but he does showcase the ability to make a guy miss.

control and mechanics

Wentz can throw a damn fine ball. When he's set, he can make some really impressive throws. His deep ball placement is average, but that's overshadowed by his laundry list of highlight reel throws.


For reference, that throw won NDSU the game. It's about as clutch and as big-time of a throw as you're going to get, and Wentz nailed it.

It's not always that perfect; on occasion Wentz will shorten his motion and attempt to make back-foot throws reminiscent of Cam Newton, but it just doesn't work as well for him. This is a correctable flaw that Wentz will need to work on throughout the off-season.

It also carries over to when he makes throws on the move. I noticed on occasion that he has an awkward motion on roll-outs that limits his accuracy - it almost looks as though he's throwing across his body. This is also a correctable flaw and coaches will have to preach patience as on the occasions I saw it (like the above play), he had plenty of time to make the throw.

overall

Wentz is incredibly talented. He can make all the NFL throws (cliché alert). He has excellent short-to-intermediate accuracy and does a good job placing the ball for receivers in jump ball and corner/fade situations. He's also a very capable runner that is difficult to take down due to his size.

But when you look at things he needs to work on, it will remind you quite a bit of former Rams quarterback Sam Bradford. He's slow with his progressions and locks onto receivers. He has questionable deep accuracy and either loses defenders or just doesn't see them - a problem since he has a tendency to force throws. He needs to improve on reading defenses so he can throw receivers open. He has ball security issues when scrambling and his bulldozer style running might hurt in the long run durability wise.

Most of these are fixable issues, sure. But physical flaws, like footwork and mechanics are so much easier to fix through muscle memory drills than trying to erase a mental reactions when you're under pressure. Wentz is an aggressive quarterback and I think NFL defenses will be able to feast on that when he enters the league.

Wentz is a first round lock and that's the grade I'd give him, but I'm just not sure if he's number one overall material. He has the talent to be an elite quarterback, but he also could be a turnover machine until he adapts to the speed of the NFL. That's not exactly comforting.