Ryan Lindley, the currently unemployed NFL quarterback who prepped Wentz and Jared Goff for the Scouting Combine and the draft, out in Irvine, Calif., says he doesn’t think Wentz will require a long apprenticeship.
“I think Carson can get going right away,” Lindley said earlier this week. “It doesn’t hurt to have some time to learn, but he’s got such an amazing football mind . . . You can say what you want about the level of the talent that was around him, but the football knowledge – his football IQ, what he was asked to do – rivals what a lot of people do in the NFL. He was handling protections, doing all that stuff that you don’t see many guys do in college.
The head scratching thing about the Carson Wentz draft pick trade was that the Eagles moved a bunch of picks in order to draft a guy who is already 23 years old, and then the Eagles apparently planned to let him sit and learn for up to a year. Actually maybe I should back up.
The really head scratching part of the trade involves Sam Bradford and Chase Daniel, although I have neither the time nor energy to get into that part.
It actually makes more sense for the Eagles to start Wentz right away because otherwise what did they trade up to get? I can understand that it’s possible that Wentz isn’t ready to start an NFL game, because he’s a high upside project. But players like that are typically drafted slightly later in the NFL draft, not at the number two overall selection. For instance, Ryan Tannehill had something of a similar resume. Like Wentz he had only started a smallish1 number of games at quarterback. And like Wentz he is known for his arm strength and athletic ability. Tannehill was also an older player coming out of school. But the Dolphins selected Tannehill with the eighth overall pick. They got a discount for having to take a raw project. It’s worth noting as long as we’re on the topic that Ryan Tannehill has started every game of his career as a pro. If the Eagles sit Wentz they’re basically saying that he’s not even as pro ready as Ryan Tannehill was, and yet they traded a small fortune to get him.
To get back to an issue that I said I wasn’t going to touch, it probably doesn’t matter that the Eagles have Bradford. What’s the point in playing Bradford when they could be getting reps for their already old rookie QB? The money is already spent, you’re not getting that back no matter what Bradford does. It’s also not like Bradford has been good in more than one or two game stretches as a pro, so who knows whether the drop off to Wentz is even severe?
Some might point to examples of players who sat early in their careers as proof it works, but we don’t really know what would have happened if Carson Palmer or Aaron Rodgers had started right away. Also, for every example of a good player sitting early in their careers, there are probably two examples of players who started right away even when they weren’t ready. Russell Wilson wasn’t very good for the first five games of his career. But those games also didn’t make a black mark on his psyche that he could never recover from. The 28 interceptions that Peyton Manning threw as a rookie didn’t scar him for his career. Even the example of David Carr, who is often used to illustrate what can go wrong when a player is forced to play too early, could be just a narrative being painted on a situation for convenience. It’s often said that Carr was forced to play behind a terrible line and thus was ruined for his career. But we know now that sacks are a fairly sticky QB stat. People think that getting sacked at a 15 percent rate ruined Carr, but his career sack rate was 10 percent, which is really high unless the player in question also gets lots of rushing yards.
This is all probably wasted pixels because the most likely explanation for what the Eagles are doing is “winging it.” They signed Bradford when they thought that was their best option. Then they took Doug Pederson’s word for it that Chase Daniel would be worth top backup money. Then they later realized that they would have the chance to get a young QB. Now the Eagles are probably trying to MacGuyver a solution to their QB emergency and instead of having a pack of chewing gum and a hockey ticket to work with, they have one disappointing former top pick, one 30 year old career back-up, and a ginger-headed QB with a couple of years dominating the Dakota Circuit.
Ultimately the issue at hand in the Carson Wentz trade is this: What is a reasonable expectation when a team mortgages its future in order to trade up and get a QB? Is it reasonable that all you get is a QB project? Or is it reasonable to expect that the player you get is already close enough to being a franchise QB that you can at least throw him out there right away and let him learn on the job. If the answer is that Wentz isn’t ready to learn on the job yet, but don’t worry because 16 games of watching Sam Bradford work will get him ready, then I guess I have reservations about what the Eagles are getting for all of the picks they gave up.
I haven’t even touched on the contract ramifications of letting Wentz sit, which reduces the number of games you’re getting at the really attractive rookie contract numbers.