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NFL Draft 2016: Is Carson Wentz the Best QB?

Carson Wentz
A quick look at Carson Wentz's resume while at North Dakota State shows a long list of accomplishments. The 23-year-old from Bismarck, North Dakota, was a two-year starter for the Bison, helping NDSU claim FCS National Titles in both seasons. He has been named the Most Outstanding Player in both title games. Despite missing six games this season due to a broken wrist, Wentz threw for over 40 touchdowns over the course of his collegiate career, and trimmed down on interceptions. On top of that, he proved himself in the classroom, earning the Academic All-American of the Year Award this past year. Now, Wentz hopes to add one more thing to his resume: the first quarterback taken in the 2016 NFL Draft. But, is the quarterback hailing from an FCS powerhouse really worthy of a Top 10 selection and the term "franchise QB"? A deeper look into Wentz paints a very interesting and confusing picture.

A dominant showing in the FCS title game this past year against Jacksonville State, helped Wentz's meteoric rise up draft boards. Wentz had long been a staple as likely a mid-round prospect, but the more scouts watched him the more they loved him. By all traditional standards, he is about as well-rounded a quarterback prospect as you can get. He has great size, at 6'6", 235 pounds and a strong, accurate arm. He shows an incredible feel for the game and terrific poise, which has aided him through pretty big FCS games.

But, Wentz isn't without his critics. Turnovers weren't a major problem while at NDSU, but they were too common for the veteran quarterback. He showed a knack for locking on to receivers and trying to force the ball into tight windows, which he absolutely will not be able to get away with at the next level. Wentz's arm strength isn't perfect, either, although it is far from a huge problem. He did show he could get the ball down the field on a consistent basis, but his down-the-field accuracy was inconsistent and occasionally shaky. And then there is the most common criticism of the quarterback: the fact he was playing FCS competition his entire career. Despite the fact it obviously doesn't get the attention FBS does, the FCS level has some great players who have had successful careers. But, carving up Jacksonville State is a little bit different than going up against Denver's pass rush or Carolina's D.

Wentz is going to be a polarizing character to watch throughout the 2016 NFL Draft process. In the first real start of Draft season, the Senior Bowl, the results were uneven. Many scouts came away unimpressed, but there was certainly a contingent that still needed a convincing. There remains a long list of NFL teams positioned in the fist round that will watch Wentz carefully, including Cleveland, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Houston and more.

There is no perfect quarterback in this year's Draft, there is no Peyton Manning or Andrew Luck. Though, Wentz appears to be as sound a quarterback prospect as there is. Though, when compared to other top quarterbacks, things are interesting. Wentz lacks the arm strength and pocket awareness of Cal prospect Jared Goff, and the size and potential of Memphis' Paxton Lynch. Both Goff and Lynch are sure to be first round prospects, and it remains to be seen if Wentz has the ceiling (Super Bowl caliber QB) that the other two appear to have.

Is Wentz the best quarterback in this Draft? No, at least not yet. He is a sure-fire first rounder and about as well-rounded as you can get. But, he will have to impress as the Combine later this month and in individual workouts. Questions will still arise about his arm strength, about his transition to the much-faster NFL game, and about his leadership qualities. He will have plenty of time to prove those doubts wrong. No matter what does become of Wentz as the 2016 NFL Draft slowly creeps closer, one thing is certain: for a kid from a school that doesn't get a ton of national attention (despite five straight National Titles), he may be the most talked-about and intriguing prospect in the entire class.

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