Wentz was a late-bloomer from a physical standpoint, growing nearly
10 inches and putting on over 100 pounds from his freshman year
in high school to now. It was that late development - as well as
a late transition to quarterback due to the late growth spurt and
the fact he hurt his throwing (right) hand during his junior year
of high school - that partially contributed to the lack of Division
I attention he attracted. (Central Michigan was the only FBS program
that showed much interest, in part because then-HC Dan Enos was
a former assistant at NDSU, giving him something of an "in"
regarding high school football in North Dakota.) By that time, however,
Wentz had already decided on the Bison.
Upon arriving at NDSU in 2011, Wentz redshirted and had to wait
two more years as the Bison won their second and third consecutive
FCS national championships under their previous signal-caller,
Brock Jensen. When it was Wentz's turn in 2014, all he did was
set school records for pass attempts (358), completions (228)
and passing yards (3,111) … and guide NDSU to its fourth straight
FCS national title. Wentz started the first six games of 2015
as a senior, completing 63.7 percent of his passes while posting
a 16:2 touchdown-to-interception ratio, before a broken wrist
sidelined him until the FCS national championship game. Although
clearly not at his best in that contest, he threw for a touchdown
and rushed for 79 yards and two more scores in a 37-10 win over
Jacksonville State to propel the Bison to their fifth consecutive
Best Scheme Fit: Universal. Would
probably thrive the most in a Gary Kubiak-type offense that asks
the quarterback to bootleg and occasionally throw on the run because
he possesses the athleticism to be a threat as a runner and the
arm to stretch the defense. Is more than capable of being a high-quality
NFL quarterback simply working from the pocket.
Aggressive and confident downfield thrower; possess sufficient
arm strength to attack any part of the field (his throw on deep
outs from the opposite hash appear almost effortless at times
and may be his best quality as a passer); shows touch when necessary.
Flashes the ability to throw his receiver open (and thus,
protect his wideout) on short and mid-range routes; extremely
accurate on these passes, especially when he sets his feet.
Highly athletic runner that shows little drop-off throwing
the ball running to his left or right.
Has played in plenty of meaningful games and seems to remain
cool under pressure; has a strong grasp of and takes pride in
the mental aspect of the game (makes checks at the line and
calls out line protections, etc.).
Sound decision-maker for the most part and can pick apart
Consistently moves seamlessly from one progression to the
Has a tendency to throw off his back foot a bit too often,
inconsistent in his follow-through and sometimes a bit nonchalant
with his throws into tight windows.
Usually looks off the safety but will occasionally pre-determine
his throw and/or lock onto his target.
Good pocket presence for the most part, but could improve
identifying/feeling unblocked blitzer; doesn't always do a good
job of feeling pressure and internal clock needs to speed up.
A bit slow on his post-snap setup and could use more work
on selling play-action fake.
Needs to show more willingness to avoid contact on scrambles/designated
runs; holds the ball against his body as a runner but will not
tuck it away on occasion.
Less-than-ideal experience (essentially 1 1/2 years as the
starter for NDSU as a result of sitting behind Jensen and recovering
from his wrist injury).
While level of competition will probably continue to be questioned
with any prospect that doesn't play for a Power 5 conference school,
Joe Flacco (Delaware) and Jimmy Garoppolo (Eastern Illinois) are
recent examples of quarterbacks from these schools that can make
the jump, so let's not focus much time debating that; it's a small
issue at best, especially considering how much NDSU trusted Wentz
at the line of scrimmage. As far as his coaches are concerned,
he's a football savant; he's also more pro-ready from a mental
standpoint than most college quarterbacks. Wentz possesses elements
of Bortles (scrambling ability), Matt Ryan (footwork and how each
player carries himself in the pocket) and Andrew Luck (desire
to be physical as a runner and extremely accurate when they are
able to set their feet), making it easy for evaluators to fall
in love with him as a prospect.
There has been some debate recently about Wentz having a low
floor and a high ceiling; I don't see the former - meaning I believe
he is a pretty safe selection. The talent is obvious; moreover,
he operated a West Coast offense at NDSU that incorporated a healthy
mix of traditional power runs, speed sweeps and receiver screens,
so there isn't going to be much a NFL offensive coordinator will
throw at him that will be all that foreign. His success figures
to be much more dependent on his supporting cast than on an inability
to adapt to the speed of the game, a lack of talent or being a
"system passer". I'll stop just short of saying he will
become a "franchise quarterback" (a far-too-overused
term), but it wouldn't surprise me if he evolves into a top-15
signal-caller at some point in his career. He may not possess
the same charisma as Jameis Winston or raw athleticism as Marcus
Mariota and probably would rank right behind them were they all
to go in the same draft, although I'm not sure many executives
would bat an eye if one or more of them graded Wentz higher. With
that said, he's not a generational talent and an organization
should not expect immediate success from him. Wentz will ideally
land with a team that won't be forced to turn things over to him
until late in his rookie year at the very earliest. As long as
his future employer has the infrastructure in place (a solid line
with at least one quality receiver) to protect him in the early
going, I can easily see Wentz making multiple Pro Bowls during
what should be a very long and productive career.
Doug Orth has written for FF
Today since 2006 and been featured in USA Today’s Fantasy
Football Preview magazine since 2010. He hosted USA Today’s
hour-long, pre-kickoff fantasy football internet chat every Sunday
in 2012-13 and appears as a guest analyst on a number of national
sports radio shows, including Sirius XM’s “Fantasy Drive”.
Doug is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.