The Eagles made their intentions very clear last week when they made the trade with Cleveland that they were going to draft a quarterback with their newly acquired first-round pick. On Thursday evening, under the bright lights of Chicago’s Auditorium Theater, it was North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz who put on the Eagles’ hat and held up his midnight green jersey, as the Eagles took the Bismarck, North Dakota native with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.
Wentz’s route to the second pick of the NFL Draft is not a common one. He became a star on the FCS level for the North Dakota State Bison, winning back-to-back National Championships in his only two seasons as a starter. Wentz, a two-year captain, was named Most Outstanding Player in each of the two championship victories. Opponents came at the Bison with everything they had in Wentz’s two seasons, looking to knock off the FCS powerhouse, but despite seeing every team’s best performance week in and week out, Wentz went 20-3 as the starting quarterback. Despite only starting two seasons, he leaves North Dakota State ranking third in school history in passing yards (5,115), touchdowns (45) and completion percentage (.641).
Aside from his numbers, Wentz’s mental and physical makeup separates him from some of the other quarterbacks in the draft. Regarded as a highly intelligent passer, Wentz stands 6-5, 237 pounds, bringing a physical presence as a runner to go along with his passing ability. He also brings the blue-collar mentality that perfectly fits with the Philadelphia mindset.
2016 is the first time the Eagles have drafted the quarterback in the first round of the NFL Draft since 1999, when they selected Donovan McNabb out of Syracuse, a move that propelled the franchise to five NFC Championship Game appearances and spot in Super Bowl XXXIX. The last time the Eagles picked inside the top five was 2013, when Lane Johnson was selected fourth overall. Johnson was signed to a new six-year contract this offseason, proving to be a cornerstone piece of the Eagles’ offense moving forward.
Wentz joins a roster with veterans like Sam Bradford and Chase Daniel ahead of him on the depth chart. Howie Roseman and head coach Doug Pederson have both stated that Bradford will be the starter, and if that is indeed the case going into the regular season, Wentz is prepared to take a back seat and learn the ins and outs of the offense before he’s ready to step in.
“My preparation is going to be the same no matter where I go no matter what situation I'm in,” Wentz said at the NFL Scouting Combine. “You got to go in there and prove yourself. You got to earn your respect. No matter if you go into a situation with a Hall of Famer in front of you or a situation with nobody in front of you and it's supposedly given to you, I don't think that's true. You got to earn every bit of it. That's how I'm going handle that situation.”
Wentz becomes the highest selected player in the history of FCS football. The previous record was held by Alcorn State’s Steve McNair, who was taken third overall by the Tennessee Titans in 1995. He will be introduced for the first time as a member of the Eagles in Philadelphia on Friday, live on PhiladelphiaEagles.com and the Eagles Mobile App.
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