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The NFL Draft is almost upon us. Months of speculation, scouting reports and heated debates are almost over. The Eagles took some of the mystery out of the draft this past week when they traded up to acquire the No. 2 overall pick. We know when the Eagles will pick and we know what position they will be picking - a quarterback. For now, we still have some guessing on whether that quarterback will be Jared Goff or Carson Wentz.
The Rams traded up for the top overall pick a couple of weeks ago. Barring the shock of the century, they will be taking a quarterback. Most people think the Rams will take Goff. There are a few reasons for this thinking. First, he is more polished than Wentz. The Rams' projected starting quarterback right now is Case Keenum. He has a career record of 5-10 and a passer rating just below 80. Keenum isn't a guy you want as your starter, especially with the team moving to a new city and trying to generate excitement. Goff would likely come in and earn the starting role and become the face of the Rams' franchise.
There is the added benefit that Goff played at the University of California and is from the northern part of the state. Although there is quite a difference between Northern California and Southern California, he is still a California kid and that is something the Rams could market as they try to build a new fan base.
Assuming things go according to conventional wisdom, that will leave Carson Wentz on the board for the Eagles. With that in mind, here is a final mock draft for the Eagles.
First round (No.2 overall) - QB Carson Wentz, North Dakota State
Third round (No.79 overall) - OL Joe Dahl, Washington State
Fifth round (No.153 overall) - S Tyvis Powell, Ohio State
Fifth round (No.164 overall) - DE Tyrone Holmes, Montana
Sixth round (No.188 overall) - LB Steven Daniels, Boston College
Seventh round (No.233 overall) - DT Quinton Jefferson, Maryland
Seventh round (No.251 overall) - OG Jordan Walsh, Iowa
Now let's go more in depth on the picks.
Carson Wentz, QB - North Dakota State
Unless you are a serious draftnik or college football fan, you probably didn't hear the name Carson Wentz until the Senior Bowl in late January. North Dakota State doesn't get a lot of national media coverage. Wentz has been on the NFL's radar for a while. Scouts go on visits to North Dakota State every year during the season and then for the Pro Day. They have seen and heard about Wentz since the 2014 season.
Initially, Wentz was looked at as a very good small-school prospect. The more scouts studied him, the more they could see that was selling him short. Wentz then went to the Senior Bowl and showed that he is a legitimate first-round talent.
The Eagles took a chance in trading up without knowing for sure which prospect would be available, but that move tells you that the team is very high on both players. Goff is more experienced and more polished, but Wentz is more gifted. He is bigger, stronger and more athletic. Wentz has a great arm and can make every throw in the book.
There are some concerns with Wentz. He played against lower-level competition. He only has 23 career starts. He doesn't anticipate plays as well as you would like. Wentz makes a ton of sense for the Eagles because he will have time to develop here. Sam Bradford is the starter for 2016 and maybe 2017. Chase Daniel is the backup. Wentz can spend the spring, summer and season learning.
Wentz would also be coming to a team with a strong group of quarterback coaches. Doug Pederson, Frank Reich and John DeFilippo have worked with a variety of quarterbacks over the years and had success with them. Wentz doesn't lack talent or ability. He needs time and teaching. The Eagles can provide both.
While there is risk with this move, there is also tremendous potential. In terms of size and arm strength, Wentz will remind you of Ben Roethlisberger. In terms of athleticism and being a dual-threat quarterback, Wentz reminds me somewhat of Cam Newton. We don't know how Wentz will turn out, but he has the potential to be a very good NFL starter.
As Howie Roseman pointed out this week, this move would not be about the upcoming season. Trading up for one of the top quarterbacks is all about long-term thinking. If the Eagles do take Wentz, he's not likely to play at all in 2016. I'm sure the thought of that will frustrate more than a few people, but adding a top-flight quarterback prospect to develop is a smart move. If that player pans out, you change the fortunes of the franchise.
Just think about the Steelers. They were very good from 1992-2003. They went to a Super Bowl and four AFC title games in that stretch. They drafted Roethlisberger in 2004 and went to the AFC Championship Game in his rookie season. They won the Super Bowl in 2005 and 2008. They were able to get to big games without Big Ben, but won a pair of titles after drafting him. The franchise quarterback helped put them over the top.
Wentz is smart, hard-working and a high-character prospect. He is the type of guy you take a chance on. He's coming to the NFL hungry. Wentz will pay the price it takes to learn and develop into a good pro player. He has passed every test so far. He had a good college career. Wentz led his team to a pair of National Championships, so he understands team success. He had a good showing at the Senior Bowl and Combine. Wentz was very impressive at his Pro Day.
The Eagles made a bold move in trading up for the No. 2 pick. They paid a big price to do that, but if they truly land the quarterback of the future, that price will absolutely be worth it.
I'll have more on the other mock draft picks on Tuesday night.