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What To Expect From Quarterback Carson Wentz In 2016

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What To Expect From Rookie QB Carson Wentz in 2016

Carson Wentz is just one of many recent draft picks that will be playing during the first week of the 2016-17 season.  It seems quite possible, however, that he’ll be one of the top stories in the league for the near future.

The Philadelphia Eagles named Wentz their starting quarterback following a trade that sent former quarterback Sam Bradford to the Minnesota Vikings for 2017 first round pick and 2018 conditional fourth pick.  That decision immediately changed the attitude towards what will likely to be a less-than-stellar season for the Eagles.

It’s no secret that historically, rookie signal callers have struggled in the National Football League.  The learning curve is significant, and adjusting to the game at the next level takes time.  Luckily for Wentz, he’ll seemingly have plenty of time.  It looks like the Philadelphia coaching staff will be realistic about what the 23-year old North Dakota State product will bring to the table on Sundays.

Wentz looked fairly solid in his one and only preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  He completed 12 of his 24 passes for 89 yards.  He was the victim of several drops, much like the Eagles quarterbacks last year.  That was the last the second overall pick would be seen in the preseason, after he suffered two broken ribs while being sacked late in the game.

The Eagles appear to have a fairly favorable test to start the season.  The Cleveland Browns have been one of the worst NFL franchises over the last several seasons, so Wentz could benefit from not being thrown into the fire against a tougher opponent. He will get that chance in the coming weeks, as the Eagles are scheduled to play the Seahawks, Vikings, Packers, Bengals, and Steelers this season.

Like all young players, Wentz will rely heavily on his offensive line and running back to help him through his first season.

There are questions at those positions, however.  On the offensive line, All-Pro left tackle Jason Peters has had a difficult time staying healthy.  On the other side, Lane Johnson appears to be headed towards a 10 game suspension for violating the leagues performance enhancing drugs policy.

Top running back Ryan Mathews has been plagued throughout his college and pro career, but has shown that he can be a quality starter when he is on the field.  Behind him is Darren Sproles, a likely third down pass catching specialist. Kenjon Barner and Wendell Smallwood are young, unproven players that can not be counted on to aid in the growth of Wentz.

Many predict that the Eagles will finish in the bottom portion of the league in most offensive categories, and it’s easy to see why.  Ideally, young quarterbacks are surrounded with talented players to be on the receiving end of their passes.  That’s not the case in Philadelphia, as Jordan Matthews is the only player on the roster to register a 1,000 yard season.

Tight End Zach Ertz and wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham will be heavily relied upon, especially in the red zone to help Carson Wentz succeed.

It will be interesting to watch Wentz learn to play in the NFL, as he’s only played a handful of games at the FCS level, which is not the highest level of college football.

My comparison for Carson Wentz is Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles.  They have similar frames and skill sets, and appear to play the game in a similar way.  However, Wentz will not begin his career with the talented arsenal that Bortles did, which included Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns, two of the top young receivers in the game today.

For the 2016 season, I believe Wentz will play around 14 games, and throw for 3000 yards with 19 touchdowns and 23 interceptions.  He’ll also probably add around 400 yards with his legs, while finding the end zone several times.

Wentz will make some jaw dropping plays, but he’ll also routinely struggle as he continues to adjust to the skill, speed, and complexity of the NFL.  Look for him to be a quick learner, but there’s only 16 games in a season to iron things out.