The pre-draft process is an intel-gathering mission on prospective employees. And although certain prospects tend to attract groupthink in the scouting community, others generate the varied opinions that come from 32 different franchises with 32 unique approaches to talent evaluation. Former NFL player and scout Bucky Brooks is taking a closer at some of the most notable -- and polarizing -- prospects in the 2016 NFL Draft, to determine draft range and team fits.
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What I like
It's easy to fall in love with Wentz's talent and potential as a franchise quarterback. Measuring 6-foot-5, 237 pounds with A-plus arm talent and spectacular athleticism, the North Dakota State standout is a dynamic playmaker capable of delivering explosive plays with his arm or feet. As a passer, he exhibits exceptional arm strength and range delivering laser-like tosses to every area of the field. Wentz fires the ball with terrific zip and velocity on tight-window throws, but he also shows the ability to throw with touch and timing on anticipatory tosses at intermediate range. Most importantly, he delivers the ball consistently within the pass catcher's strike zone, resulting in explosive plays on various catch-and-run concepts on the perimeter. With Wentz displaying superb footwork and fundamentals executing traditional drops and shotgun mechanics, the North Dakota State standout shouldn't have any problems transitioning to a pro-style offense at the next level.
From an athletic standpoint, Wentz's unique combination of size, agility and movement skills makes him a threat on movement passes and designed quarterback runs. He can be especially dangerous in the red zone, as teams frequently forget to account for the quarterback on zone reads or quarterback powers between the tackles. Given Cam Newton's success as a run-pass threat near the goal line, Wentz's versatility will pique the interest of scouts looking for a difference maker at the position.
Finally, Wentz's experience directing an offense that featured run-pass checks and various pass protections should help him quickly master an NFL playbook. Unlike the quarterbacks who enter the NFL after working in a spread offense, Wentz already has valuable experience orchestrating the game from the line during the pre-snap phase. In addition, he knows how to find his designated "hot" receivers against blitz pressure, which is critical to success as a pro. Considering how much information an NFL quarterback must process at the line, Wentz's experience in the Bison's pro-style offense should give him a decided advantage over some of his peers at the position.
Why the range?
Despite Wentz's winning pedigree and prototypical physical tools, he remains a bit of a question mark, due to concerns regarding the competition he faced at the FCS level. Yes, he thoroughly dominated small-school opponents with his spectacular skills as a run-pass threat, but scouts wonder how long it will take him to acclimate to the speed and tempo of the pro game. Wentz played well at the Senior Bowl, which features rosters loaded with top draft picks from FBS schools, so that's a positive sign. Evaluators also will look at his performance against higher-level competition (such as when he helped the Bison beat Iowa State in 2014) to see if he has the moxie to take his game up a notch when he faces blue-chip talent.
Wentz's limited experience as a starter (only 23 career starts in one-and-a-half seasons) will weigh on the minds of evaluators attempting to project his immediate potential as an NFL starter. Long-time coaches and scouts believe a quarterback needs to have significant reps at the position to succeed at the highest level. (Bill Parcells believed quarterbacks should have three years of starting experience, at least 23 career wins and a college degree to be successful in the NFL.) While Wentz certainly has won plenty of games during his tenure, he falls short of the starting-experience metric, and the lack of repetitions could limit his immediate impact as a first-year starter. Though it seems unlikely now, fears that he'll disappoint could help drop him to the bottom of the first round.
Where would he excel?
Wentz is a talented quarterback prospect capable of thriving within any system. He has experience executing traditional concepts, but he also possesses the athleticism and movement skills to thrive in a spread offense that features zone-read and "RPO" (run-pass option) tactics. Thus, I believe he would thrive in Cleveland under the direction of coach Hue Jackson and assistant Pep Hamilton. Each coach has earned rave reviews for his development of young passers. Wentz would benefit greatly from working under a creative coaching staff capable of adapting the playbook to best suit the skills of the quarterback.
Wentz also would do well with the Dallas Cowboys and, should he last long enough, the Los Angeles Rams (who have the No. 15 overall pick), due to their strong rushing attacks and vertical-based passing games. As a strong-armed passer capable of pushing the ball down the field on deep comebacks and over routes, Wentz could excel in an offense deeply rooted in play-action passing concepts. Moreover, his ability to throw the deep ball would enhance the dynamic running games of each team and lead to more explosive plays. With the Cowboys providing Wentz with the opportunity to sit behind an established veteran in Tony Romo to learn the nuances of the game away from the spotlight, the North Dakota State standout could follow the blueprint that helped Aaron Rodgers and Philip Rivers become perennial Pro Bowlers at the position.