Get ready for lots of buzz about the first quarterback taken in the NFL draft quite possibly being Carson Wentz, who lead North Dakota State to its fifth consecutive NCAA Football Championship Subdivision title earlier this month.
The Dallas Morning News, for example, is speculating that Wentz could go to the Cowboys with the No. 4 pick.
The Cowboys coaching staff will be in charge of the North team for Saturday's Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., where NFL scouts get to take a long look at some of the best players who will be entering the draft. Part of Wentz's intrigue, according to Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports, is that many of those who are looking at him haven't seen him play in person.
Wentz as the top quarterback taken is probably a reach right now, with Jared Goff of Cal, Paxton Lynch of Memphis and Connor Cook of Michigan State also being available. (None of those three are at the Senior Bowl, however. Goff and Lynch are juniors; Cook is a senior but has elected to skip the game.)
Still, why all the excitement about a quarterback who didn't hone his skills playing against top college competition? (Yes, that's a picture of Wentz at the top of the Sports Illustrated Senior Bowl preview on the web.)
Wentz has met with about half of the teams in the NFL at the Senior Bowl, according to the Miami Herald.
Robinson writes: "If ever there was a case of wildly raising the bar on expectations as quickly as possible, Wentz is it. That's not to suggest the latest NFL draft darling can't justify such praise. It's just … well … even the head of the Senior Bowl, Phil Savage, hasn't seen Wentz play in person. Wentz is 'probably going to be the most watched player here,' Savage said, but it's an odd reality for the Senior Bowl's top official, who readily admits that the top draw at quarterback is a guy who most NFL evaluators haven't seen in a live game."
The latest mock draft from SB Nation has Wentz going at No. 13 to the Philadelphia Eagles, with notes that he could move up depending on how he's evaluated by scouts between now and the draft.
Jeff McLane of the newspaper web site Philly.com offered this perspective: "If (the Eagles) chose to not bring Bradford back - and right now that would come as a surprise - it would be a clear indication that they intend to expend a high draft selection on a quarterback. There is only one prospect at this week's Senior Bowl practices that merits mention as a possible first-round draft pick: Carson Wentz."
For his part, Wentz is answering questions about the hype like the pro he expects to be.
He told Yahoo's Robinson: "I think there are obviously a lot of doubts, coming from the FCS, and I want to address that right away. [I want to] prove that I can play at a high level, play at a fast level and compete with these guys and really excel."
But vaulting ahead of the higher-profile quarterbacks in the draft, which is scheduled for April 28-30?
Adam H. Beasley of the Miami Herald wrote that Wentz "already has the swagger of a franchise quarterback. 'Absolutely,' Wentz said when asked if he wants to be the first quarterback taken in the draft. 'I don’t know any quarterback who doesn’t want to be the top guy.' "