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North Dakota State's Carson Wentz has all the tools, great upside for the Rams

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  • North Dakota State's Carson Wentz has all the tools, great upside for the Rams

    North Dakota State's Carson Wentz has all the tools, great upside for the Rams

    April 16, 2016
    Updated April 17, 2016 10:40 a.m.


    North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz has a great arm, ideal physical skills and a locker-room presence, experts say.BRUCE CRUMMY, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS


    By RYAN KARTJE / STAFF WRITER

    As any conversation about this 6-foot-5, 235-pound North Dakotan with a howitzer arm, barrel frame and the undeniable look of a franchise quarterback seems to begin these days, let us first address the Bison in the room.

    Carson Wentz spent the past five years playing college football in Fargo, N.D. After starting just one season at Bismarck Century High, a late growth spurt left his recruiting profile so low that the popular online scouting services didn’t bother to make a page for him. At North Dakota State, an FCS powerhouse, Wentz didn’t start until his redshirt junior season, and he threw just 612 passes over his entire career – only 28 of which came against FBS opponent. All of these things are true.

    Of course, there’s the 28-3 record and the two FCS championships in two seasons and the glowing off-the-field profile there for your consideration. But there’s no avoiding the reality of the situation. Not since 1974 has an NFL team used the top pick on a player below college football’s highest level.

    As the Rams wonder whether Wentz or Cal’s Jared Goff would be best to carry a rebranded franchise on their shoulders, this lack of experience against top competition is the specter that hangs over the draft’s most intriguing quarterback prospect.

    “I know a lot of people have that question,” Wentz said at the NFL Scouting Combine in February. “I know what I’m capable of.”

    Before deciding for yourself, consider one of those 28 throws against an FBS defense. It’s 2014, Wentz’s first start, and the Bison have just crossed midfield on the road against Iowa State. Wentz drops back from under center, fakes a handoff and steps up into a clean pocket. There are some questions about his pocket presence, but at this moment, he is cool in the face of chaos. On a late read, he launches a bomb 40 yards in the air to wideout Zach Vraa, tucking it cleanly between a charging help safety and a cornerback in man coverage.

    The throw is a dazzling reminder of why Wentz has risen this far, from small-school nobody to lofty Joe Flacco and Ben Roethlisberger comparisons. “He’s got some seriously great arm talent,” said Randy Hedberg, North Dakota State’s quarterbacks coach.

    No scout will dispute that. Wentz has a cannon. Next year, his arm might immediately rank among the league’s dozen best.

    His tools, from the mammoth frame to his 10-inch hands to the 4.77 40 time, suggest that a potential great quarterback can be molded from the clay. Mike Mayock of NFL Network suggested recently he could have the upside of Tom Brady or Andrew Luck. ESPN’s Jon Gruden sees him as “the most NFL-ready quarterback in years.” But for Hedberg, who has watched him develop up close, the bullish predictions go beyond Wentz’s physical tools.

    At North Dakota State, Wentz called his own protections. He changed plays and used hot routes at the line of scrimmage. While Goff’s offense at Cal operated mostly out of shotgun with three- and four-wide sets, North Dakota State’s pro-style setup should mean an easier transition to the NFL for Wentz. His offense was built around a workhorse running back and play-action sets – which Wentz excelled passing and running out of – so he could prove an ideal fit for the Rams’ offensive philosophy, too.

    “You watch him at North Dakota State, and you see pro-style reads, left-to-right, high-to-low progressions,” CBS Sports draft analyst Dane Brugler said. “You see him taking 50-50 snaps under center and in shotgun. You see everything you want to see.”

    Hedberg takes it a step further.

    “Everybody sees his workouts and how he throws the ball,” Hedberg said, “but when you sit in with him on a meeting, he’s really going to blow you away.”

    The coach points to one play, his favorite from two years with Wentz.

    It’s the national semifinals in 2014, and North Dakota State is trailing with one minute remaining. Wentz catches the snap out of the shotgun, fakes a handoff, stands firm in the pocket for a beat and then uncorks a soaring spiral to the far corner of the end zone, where it falls softly into a freshman wideout’s outstretched arms. The placement is stunning.

    “His poise under pressure was unbelievable,” Hedberg said. “The throw was the only possible place he could throw it. It was perfect. That’s one play I’ll never forget.”

    This isn’t to say that Wentz is the perfect prospect, per se. His pocket presence is still a work in progress. His footwork will need to be cleaned up. Goff may be more accurate and ready to step in from Day 1, and plenty will question whether either is worth the king’s ransom that the Rams gave up for the No. 1 pick.

    “When you’re pick No. 1, philosophically, you’re not picking for what Coach Fisher pencils in on opening day,” Rams GM Les Snead said on Thursday. “It’s really what he pencils in for the next decade.”

    And that, precisely, is the principle that could lead the Rams to risk it all on the small-school, North Dakotan with the huge arm and a better-than-you-might-think chance at being the NFL’s next great gunslinger. With all their chips on the table, there’s no better gamble.

  • #2
    ESPN’s Jon Gruden sees him as “the most NFL-ready quarterback in years.”
    This is interesting.

    Comment


    • #3
      My two cents is that now that the Rams have given up a ton to take a swing for the fences on a franchise qb, i would strongly advocate taking the guy with the most upside in wentz. Getting a good but not great qb is not a valid reason to trade this many picks from my perspective. If you are going to mortgage your future, it should be for star potential and that sounds like wentz to me.

      ramming speed to all

      general counsel

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by r8rh8rmike View Post
        This is interesting.
        Gruden also said Cook is perhaps the best QB in this class. So I don't know what to make of Gruden this year.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Nick View Post
          Gruden also said Cook is perhaps the best QB in this class. So I don't know what to make of Gruden this year.
          Good point. Didn't Gruden describe Austin Davis as a young Drew Brees?

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by r8rh8rmike View Post

            Good point. Didn't Gruden describe Austin Davis as a young Drew Brees?
            In an offense with something that resembles an NFL OL A. Davis would have been better then average QB. I seen Davis more as a sane version of B. Farve if he became an elite QB. But even if the Rams had D. Brees in 2015 the result might have been at best two more wins

            Why would anyone take GRUDEN serious on any level? He took over a team mostly crafted by T. Dungy to a Super Bowl and couldn't get back to even a sniff of another Super Bowl. M. Martz (OC then HC) saw 2 Super Bowls. There after being shown the door GRUDEN hasn't stepped on the sideline of another team as a coach-- he is what is known as a talker not a doer...at least with T. Dilfer he can recognize the skill in other QBs he never had in the NFL to be somewhat creditable

            Comment


            • #7
              I like this kid a lot. He probably can eventually become a Blake Bortles / Joe Flacco / Matt Ryan type of QB. Don't know that I'd give up all we did for a Bortles/Flacco/Ryan, but it's certainly better than what we have now. But I'd be lying if I said his level of competition doesn't bother me. Yea, he led his team to the "tallest dwarf in the room" trophy, but the NFL is a different bird all together. I hope he can pick it up.
              The more things change, the more they stay the same.

              Comment


              • #8
                He doesn't make the schedule. FWIW, he beat (FBS) Iowa State in 2014. In fact, NDSU has humiliated the last 5 FBS teams they have played (all in their own stadiums), so they struggled/failed to find someone willing to give them a shot in 2015. The whole 'level of competition' thing holds very little water anymore. The better FCS programs are beating and playing very close games with FBS schools (even some of the 'big boys') every year.
                "You people point your 'f'in' finger and say theres the bad guy....what that make you....good?" Tony Montana

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Fargo Ram Fan View Post
                  He doesn't make the schedule. FWIW, he beat (FBS) Iowa State in 2014. In fact, NDSU has humiliated the last 5 FBS teams they have played (all in their own stadiums), so they struggled/failed to find someone willing to give them a shot in 2015. The whole 'level of competition' thing holds very little water anymore. The better FCS programs are beating and playing very close games with FBS schools (even some of the 'big boys') every year.
                  Come on, Fargo. I mean, I like the kid, and I hope he's the pick. But yes, the level of competition has to be considered. Every week of Wentz' college career looks like the opening week competition of the D-1 QB prospects. Goff had 1 or 2 weeks per year against "gimme" defenses. Wentz saw that every week.

                  Don't get me wrong. As I said, I want the pick to be Wentz. But yes, his jump in level of competition will be significant; more significant than every other QB prospect. I hope he can make it.

                  The more things change, the more they stay the same.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by HUbison View Post
                    I like this kid a lot. He probably can eventually become a Blake Bortles / Joe Flacco / Matt Ryan type of QB. Don't know that I'd give up all we did for a Bortles/Flacco/Ryan, but it's certainly better than what we have now. But I'd be lying if I said his level of competition doesn't bother me. Yea, he led his team to the "tallest dwarf in the room" trophy, but the NFL is a different bird all together. I hope he can pick it up.
                    To be fair, we recently had a QB that didn't even make it to the '"tallest dwarf in the room" trophy', but almost all he did was WIN as a starting QB. IMO, we haven't found a replacement for the DIV 1AA QB since he was cast to the curb. Maybe Wentz can be that guy? I certainly hope so, as we gave up too much if he (or Goff) doesn't pan out.


                    gap

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by gap View Post

                      To be fair, we recently had a QB that didn't even make it to the '"tallest dwarf in the room" trophy', but almost all he did was WIN as a starting QB. IMO, we haven't found a replacement for the DIV 1AA QB since he was cast to the curb. Maybe Wentz can be that guy? I certainly hope so, as we gave up too much if he (or Goff) doesn't pan out.


                      gap
                      And for every Kurt Warner, there's 10,000 who aren't. I'm pulling for the kid, but playing against the lower tier defenses his whole career is a nagging question. Hope he has the right answer.

                      The more things change, the more they stay the same.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by HUbison View Post
                        And for every Kurt Warner, there's 10,000 who aren't. I'm pulling for the kid, but playing against the lower tier defenses his whole career is a nagging question. Hope he has the right answer.
                        I'm with you one this one, I just had to put that out there in case it happens. That way I can say I called it just like I called KW being a great QB in 1997.

                        But I am completely on board with the RAMS way over paying for the quality of the QBs available. I am also the only one on the LA drinks too much everclear tainted kool aide. If these same FO moves were pulled last year, or this year with the RAMS deciding to stay in STL forever, everyone on this board would be saying what you are saying.


                        gap

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by gap View Post
                          That way I can say I called it just like I called KW being a great QB in 1997.
                          You "called" KW when he was in the Arena League?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by AvengerRam View Post

                            You "called" KW when he was in the Arena League?
                            No, I called Warner when the RAMS signed him around Christmas (after the season ended) 1997. Jim Thomas' article referred to him as Curt Warner, and all I could find was the Seattle running back. I then dug a little deeper and found that it was Kurt Warner. I then read as much as I could about his short starting college career and the Barn Stormers. Everyone on the RAMPAGERS (listserv) said I was crazy, and that he wouldn't be more than a camp arm, if he got past NFL-E.


                            gap

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Ram Dragoon View Post
                              ...
                              ...

                              Why would anyone take GRUDEN serious on any level? He took over a team mostly crafted by T. Dungy to a Super Bowl and couldn't get back to even a sniff of another Super Bowl. M. Martz (OC then HC) saw 2 Super Bowls. There after being shown the door GRUDEN hasn't stepped on the sideline of another team as a coach-- he is what is known as a talker not a doer...at least with T. Dilfer he can recognize the skill in other QBs he never had in the NFL to be somewhat creditable

                              To be fair, before taking over for the Bucs and getting that SB ring, he led a Raiders team to 3 straight playoff seasons, losing to the eventual SB winning Ravens in the AFC championship in one.

                              Not that I'm defending him as a stellar coach. But he did more than catch Tony Dungy's coattail for a season. I'd probably place him merely as a middle tier coach.




                              Comment

                              Related Topics

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                              • r8rh8rmike
                                Farmer: North Dakota State's Carson Wentz Is A 'No-Brainer' Choice For The Rams
                                by r8rh8rmike
                                North Dakota State's Carson Wentz is a 'no-brainer' choice for the L.A. Rams






                                Sam Farmer - Contact Reporter

                                Football is a game of disguise and misdirection, so fittingly the Rams aren't disclosing which quarterback they'll select with the No. 1 pick in this month's draft, Cal's Jared Goff or North Dakota State's Carson Wentz.

                                This much is known: They'll take a quarterback, not surprising considering the hefty price tag required to make the unprecedented move from No. 15 to No. 1.

                                The Rams had private workouts with both players and it's highly improbable the team hasn't zeroed in on one. As General Manager Les Snead said Thursday in a news conference formally announcing the trade with the Tennessee Titans, "the hay is in the barn" in terms of scouting the quarterbacks. An interesting wrinkle is that both players are represented by agent Bruce Tollner, son of former USC football coach Ted Tollner.

                                While the Rams have praised both players and caution against assuming that either is out of the running, some outside experts see the choice as clear: It's Wentz who should wind up in L.A.



                                Nineteen years ago, the newly minted St. Louis Rams made a stunning move, trading up five spots -- and leapfrogging the Oakland Raiders -- to grab the No. 1 pick in the draft and select tackle Orlando Pace, a future Hall of Famer.

                                The Los Angeles Rams can only hope things go as well this time.

                                Nineteen years ago, the newly minted St. Louis Rams made a stunning move, trading up five spots -- and leapfrogging the Oakland Raiders -- to grab the No. 1 pick in the draft and select tackle Orlando Pace, a future Hall of Famer.

                                The Los Angeles Rams can only hope things go as well this time.

                                "I really like Jared Goff, but he doesn't have the upside that this kid [Wentz] has," said Mike Mayock, NFL Network draft analyst. "So in my mind, it has to be Wentz — it's not even a question — and I think it's the intangibles that sold [Rams Coach] Jeff Fisher and Les Snead, on top of the physical stuff."



                                Mayock said he was impressed when studying video of Goff after the season and initially thought he was the best quarterback prospect in the class. He changed his mind, though, after watching tape of Wentz.
                                "At that point, I had never heard of Carson Wentz," Mayock said. "He was just a name on a quarterback list. I put in his tape against Northern Iowa and when I got done with it I was like, 'Wow, I hope the next one is just as good, because this was kind of special.' And the next one was just as good if not better, as was the next one."

                                But there wasn't a large body of work from Wentz's 2015 season because he sat out eight games because of a broken wrist. He shined at the Senior Bowl,...
                                -04-15-2016, 10:32 AM
                              • Nick
                                If you're a supporter of analytics, then Football Outsiders says Goff's your guy
                                by Nick
                                http://espn.go.com/nfl/draft2016/ins...rson-wentz-nfl

                                Not all the charts are translating so I'm just linking to the article, but the TL;DR version of it is this...

                                Based on their metrics, Wentz has a 61.9% chance to bust with a 38.1% chance to be an adequate starter or better. Goff has a 28.1% chance to bust and a whopping 71.8% chance to be adequate or better (37.7% chance of being upper tier). Lynch, Cook, Hackenberg, and Prescott are also examined....
                                -04-16-2016, 08:43 AM
                              • r8rh8rmike
                                Cal QB Jared Goff has skills, NFL-ready talent to warrant being Rams' No. 1 pick
                                by r8rh8rmike
                                Cal QB Jared Goff has skills, NFL-ready talent to warrant being Rams' No. 1 pick

                                April 16, 2016


                                Updated April 17, 2016 10:43 a.m.


                                1 of 1
                                California quarterback Jared Goff looks for an open receiver against Air Force during the first half of the Armed Forces Bowl on Dec. 29. Goff's pocket presence is considered one of his strengths. RON JENKINS, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS



                                As far as college quarterbacks go, Jared Goff is not among the most decorated.

                                He racked up gaudy numbers, but did so in an Air Raid-styled spread offense. He was never in serious discussion for any major national awards and had to share his All-Pac-12 first-team nod this past season. He finished with a career record of 14-23.

                                None of that, however, should prevent the Rams from drafting him No. 1 overall over North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz at the end of this month.

                                “I went into every game thinking I’m the best player on the field,” Goff said last summer. “Because I think you have to.”

                                He was reflecting on his 2013 debut at Cal, when he became the first true freshman quarterback in program history to start a season opener. That first campaign in Berkeley was miserable, with the Golden Bears winning just a single game under new coach Sonny Dykes.

                                But to those who would knock Goff for not being a “winner,” consider this: The 21-year-old is already mentally prepared for the hardships of an NFL transition. He is unlikely to see his confidence shaken by even the worst losses, unlikely to be fazed by the pressure of being anointed the savior of Los Angeles pro football.

                                He also checks off several other boxes, having improved his passer rating by double digits in every season. CBS Sports’ Dane Brugler and NBC Sports’ Josh Norris both rank the Bay Area product as the more attractive prospect, as does Sports Illustrated’s Chris Burke. Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller said in a recent radio appearance that he would take Goff over Wentz “without a doubt.”

                                Even NFL Network’s Mike Mayock, who prefers Wentz for his tools and upside, has called Goff the “most ready-to-play quarterback in this draft.”

                                “You just don’t see very often college quarterbacks who have his ability both mentally and physically,” Brugler said. “His ability to throw guys open, that passing anticipating. You saw that a little bit with Jameis Winston, but he brings something different to the table – something that projects very well to the NFL level.”

                                Of course, it’s easy enough to find those on the other side of the aisle, too. Wentz is still the favorite to go No. 1 on a litany of mock drafts, including one from Cris Collinsworth that predicted the Rams’ blockbuster trade a month before it was finalized.

                                The case for Wentz is simple enough to understand. The Bismarck, N.D., native stands at 6-foot-5 and 235...
                                -04-18-2016, 11:21 AM
                              • r8rh8rmike
                                Rams expect No. 1 pick Jared Goff will defy Air Raid QBs' shaky NFL history
                                by r8rh8rmike
                                Rams expect No. 1 pick Jared Goff will defy Air Raid QBs' shaky NFL history
                                April 30, 2016


                                Despite the Air Raid approach used by Cal, Jared Goff was responsible for checking off at the line, changing protections and using his judgment in other ways some quarterbacks in similar systems don't. RON JENKINS , THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

                                By RYAN KARTJE / STAFF WRITER

                                Over the course of a three-year career at Cal, in which he shattered school records with video-game stats, carried an offense otherwise devoid of talent through a football renaissance, and rocketed to the top of the NFL draft, Jared Goff took exactly one snap under center.

                                It was a third-down pass, last season against Washington. It fell incomplete.

                                Perhaps, in the grand scheme of what made Goff worthy of the draft’s No. 1 pick, this seems like an extraordinarily minor detail. Coaches rave about how he “checks all the boxes,” and in terms of natural tools, it’s hard to dispute their claims. His accuracy, especially on throws outside the hashmarks, looks effortless. With preternatural instincts, his calm navigation of the pocket is otherwise unheard of from prospects his age. His poise and intangibles, forged through two difficult losing seasons in Berkeley, seem to foreshadow a franchise quarterback-in-the-making.

                                “He has a skill set that is special,” Rams coach Jeff Fisher said. “He sees things, has a quick release, understands the QB position and he gets rid of the football. When you look at his body at work, it’s impressive.”

                                But about that one snap ...

                                Spread concepts, such as those in Goff’s collegiate offense, are hardly a new trend in college football. Over the past five years, the number of snaps collegiate quarterbacks have taken under center has plummeted by more than 40 percent. And at Cal, where Coach Sonny Dykes has installed his version of the “Air Raid” offense, quarterbacks operate pretty much exclusively out of a no-huddle, up-tempo, four-wideout, shotgun look that relies heavily on the pass to spread out defenses.

                                Pioneered by longtime Kentucky coach Hal Mumme and current Washington State coach Mike Leach, the Air Raid is known to produce high-scoring games and head-turning stats in order to disguise other inefficiencies, and that was certainly true at Cal during Goff’s tenure. Last season, Goff threw for 300-plus yards in 10 of Cal’s 13 games and three or more touchdowns in eight, in spite of a patchwork offensive line and serious lack of weapons.

                                What the Air Raid isn’t known for is producing viable NFL quarterbacks.

                                Among the reasons to question the Rams’ move to wager the future on Goff, this is perhaps the most alarming. Since 1999, when another Air Raid product, Kentucky’s Tim Couch, went No. 1 overall to the Browns, only two true Air Raid quarterbacks were selected in the first round, before this draft. Both – Johnny Manziel and...
                                -05-05-2016, 01:00 PM
                              • Nick
                                Draft Buzz: Two QBs In The Top Five?
                                by Nick
                                Draft Buzz: Two QBs In The Top Five?
                                Posted 5 hours ago
                                Tony Pauline
                                DraftInsider.net

                                With both the Senior Bowl and Shrine Game now complete, NFL prospects are preparing for the next phase of the scouting process, the Combine, which begins in just over three weeks. So what’s the word around the league as teams and players depart Mobile, Alabama? Here’s the latest draft buzz circulating among insiders.

                                1. Showered with praise after three very good days of practice and a solid showing in the Senior Bowl game, quarterback Carson Wentz was even more impressive in closed-door meetings with coaches and general managers. I’m told he knocked it out of the park during interviews as personnel people around the league who interviewed Wentz were awed by his knowledge of X’s and O’s. The belief is the North Dakota State product, who was a 4.0 student in college, should have no problem running a multiple formation offense on Sundays and coaches love his upside.

                                2. Though he didn’t attend the Senior Bowl, Christian Hackenberg is another signal-caller whose upside potential excites NFL decision-makers. Some eyebrows were raised when Hackenberg left for the NFL Draft after two dismal seasons, but the situation at Penn State was untenable for him. He offers the physical skills to start on Sunday and teams truly believe with proper coaching he’ll reach his potential in the NFL, something Hackenberg would’ve never achieved on the college level. No one I’ve spoken with in the past two months believes Hackenberg will drop out of the draft’s top 75 picks.

                                3. Is it possible two quarterbacks will be top five selections in April? The answer from league insiders is “yes” with Carson Wentz and Jared Goff filling the slots. Wentz is watching his draft stock move north after the Senior Bowl and many believe the Combine is the perfect setting for Goff to show off his talents. Assuming he participates in Combine workouts, one insider told me they expect Goff to, “throw the hell out of the ball and be on the mark with all his passes.”

                                4. Contrary to Wentz and Goff there’s little excitement for Connor Cook. I took flak from Michigan State fans last week after posting teammates were “less than effusive in their praise” of the quarterback, but scouts and insiders I spoke with in Mobile said the situation surrounding Cook’s personality poses a problem for them. The fact he chose not to attend the Senior Bowl further complicates the situation and it’s something Cook will be grilled about during the Combine.

                                5. The Big Ten acquitted itself well at the Senior Bowl and Ohio State tight end Nick Vannett was one of the week’s big winners. Already graded as the top senior at the position, there’s a belief Vannett could end up as the first tight end selected in the draft. Hunter Henry of Arkansas will battle for the top spot, but his blocking pales in comparison to Vannett in that regard. Teams...
                                -02-01-2016, 03:54 PM
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