North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz showed no signs of rust Saturday, as he led the Bison to a 37-10 win over Jacksonville State to capture the team's fifth straight FCS championship. It was Wentz's first game back since he broke his wrist in October, and the praise for the QB quickly came rolling in via social media.
Wentz, a senior, has accepted an invitation to play in the Reese's Senior Bowl later this month, and NFL Media draft expert Mike Mayock says NFL teams in need of a QB are going to very intrigued with what they see from the 6-foot-6, 235-pound signal-caller.
Wentz completed 16 of 30 passes for 197 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions vs. Jacksonville State. He also led his team in rushing, carrying nine times for 79 yards and two TDs. Those numbers might not jump off the page, but NFL Media senior analyst Gil Brandt was very impressed with Wentz's performance, especially considering he had such a long layoff due to injury.
"I'm a perfectionist. I'm just glad we got the (win)," Wentz told ESPN after the game. "I'm the beneficiary of a bunch of dudes making plays all day long."
NFL Media analyst Lance Zierlein wrote in December that Wentz was worthy of a first-round grade. With QB-needy teams like the Cleveland Browns (No. 2 pick) and San Francisco 49ers (No. 7) drafting early, he won't last long if a club with a hole to fill at QB determines he's the best player available at the position. In fact, NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah says several personnel executives have Wentz rated as the No. 1 QB on their draft boards.
Then again, the decision to take an FCS QB, regardless of his credentials, that early in the draft might not come before some serious hand-wringing.
Junior quarterbacks Paxton Lynch (Memphis) and Jared Goff (Cal) have declared they intend to enter the 2016 draft. Mayock mentioned those two and Wentz, along with Michigan State's Connor Cook, a senior, as the top QB talents expected to be available in the draft this year.