Carson Wentz in battle for best quarterback at NFL Combine

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Carson Wentz is the best quarterback available in the NFL Draft. He just might not be the best quarterback right now.That was the opinion of NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock after watching North Dakota State's Wentz, Ca...

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North Dakota State Bison quarterback Carson Wentz throws a pass during the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. (Photo by Brian Spurlock / USA TODAY Sports)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Carson Wentz is the best quarterback available in the NFL Draft. He just might not be the best quarterback right now.
That was the opinion of NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock after watching North Dakota State’s Wentz, Cal’s Jared Goff and the rest of the quarterback prospects work out at the Scouting Combine on Saturday.
“The advantage Wentz has is he’s been under center” in North Dakota State’s scheme, Mayock said in breaking down what appears to be a two-horse race to be the first quarterback off the board. “He’s done a lot of the protections. He’s been under center. You can see his footwork - it was good. The difference is he’s played 23 games, and he’s done it at a lower level. I didn’t see the same pocket awareness. When I watch Goff, I see a guy sliding, moving around the pocket, throwing from one side of the field to the other and making every throw. I don’t think Wentz is at that point yet as far as being quickly able to do that. I think he needs a lot more reps.”
As expected, Wentz put on a dazzling display at the Combine. After displaying his athleticism - he tied for second in the 40-yard dash and broad jump and was third in the three-cone drill - Wentz showed his big arm during positional drills. He also showed strong fundamentals.
“You can’t see the ground underneath his feet,” NFL Network’s Kurt Warner, a former NFL quarterback and Pro Football Hall of Fame finalist, said on the air. “He’s sliding them across the grass, so they’re right on the turf all the time. So, anytime along the way, all of a sudden the guy comes open, he can stick that foot in the ground and let the ball go. He doesn’t have to wait for his feet to catch up.”
While Goff, a junior with 37 career starts against better competition, might be more prepared to step right into a starting lineup, Wentz’s experience in a pro-style offense and his arm strength are what set him apart in a longer-term projection.
“Wentz is interesting because I’d love to see him sit for a year,” Mayock said. “If I’m Dallas at No. 4, I’m sitting there kind of licking my lips because I’ve got a 36-year-old quarterback (Tony Romo) who hasn’t finished a season in three years, and you’re probably not going to be at (fourth overall) again very soon - at least hope not if you’re Dallas. So, you’ve got an opportunity to draft for the future. I think that’s the ideal situation for him. Now, if he had to go in and play this year, do I think he could take his lumps and do that? Yes. The healthiest situation for that kid and the franchise is to give him a year behind an established starter. Even Cleveland (with the No. 2 pick). Go to Cleveland and spend a year learning the system, learning what you’re doing, and a year from now, you’re the guy. I think that’s healthy.”
With Cleveland, Dallas and Philadelphia (which owns the No. 7 pick) needing quarterbacks, Wentz’s wait on April 28 shouldn’t be long.
Two offensive linemen with North Dakota ties - Joe Haeg and Connor McGovern - had strong Scouting Combines, as well.
Haeg, the All-American North Dakota State offensive tackle, did not do the bench press on Thursday as he recovers from a sprained shoulder. While he couldn’t show his strength, he did show his athleticism during Friday’s drills. Among the offensive linemen, Haeg’s 20-yard shuttle of 4.47 seconds was the third-fastest, his broad jump of 9 feet, 3 inches tied for the fourth-longest and his three-cone drill of 7.47 seconds ranked fifth. He ran his 40-yard dash in 5.16 seconds.
At Missouri, McGovern played left tackle. In the NFL, the Fargo native says he best projects to guard or center. He showed his strength with 33 reps on the 225-pound bench press, a figure that was only one behind the leader, Arizona State’s Christian Westerman, among the 45 linemen who participated. He ran his 40 in 5.11 seconds with a 9-foot, 1-inch broad jump, a 7.5-second three-cone drill and a 4.65-second shuttle.

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