No one knows whether Carson Wentz, the Eagles’ presumptive first-round pick Thursday, is the next Ben Roethlisberger or the next Tim Couch. The next Cam Newton or Ryan Leaf.
You can watch film of the 6-foot-5 Adonis from Bismarck, talk to his coaches, read every article and pepper questions at Mike Mayock. I’ve done all that. In the end, however, we’re still guessing whether Wentz can make the leap from beating the Weber State Wildcats to beating the New York Giants.
Here’s what we do know: Eagles GM Howie Roseman is betting his entire career on it. If Wentz – who has started just 23 games at a third-tier conference – is awed or overwhelmed playing against the big boys, Roseman departs town as the butt of jokes. He’s this generation’s Rich Kotite.
But if Wentz succeeds . . . well, there is a little real estate left among all those statues down at the Sports Complex. Can you envision a 10-foot tall monument to Roseman? On the base, you put his mantra: “One-hundred percent, man.”
I kid, but really, those are the stakes. And, while I cannot be sure whether Wentz will be the next Andrew Luck or the next Vince Young, I applaud Roseman for having the brass ones to make this move.
The reasoning is simple. History shows that unless an NFL team has that rare killer defense (Baltimore in 2000, Denver last year), it’s virtually impossible to win without top QB. I don’t care how you define the word “elite,” I’m saying he needs to be at least as good as Joe Flacco, Phil Simms or Eli Manning in his prime. None of those former first-rounders is a likely Hall of Famer. But each has earned a Super Bowl MVP.
Sam Bradford isn’t that guy, despite being the top overall pick in 2010. The closest we’ve seen here was Donovan McNabb, who was talented enough to keep the Eagles in contention most years but, alas, incapable of carrying them to a title.
Oh, and if there’s truth in the reports Monday that Sam Bradford has demanded a trade and plans to skip off-season activities, well, that makes the decision to pick his replacement even easier. Bradford signed a deal, took a $5.5 million signing bonus and now whines because he faces competition? What a wuss.
Great QBs usually go at the top of the draft. The Eagles took McNabb with the 2nd overall pick in 1999. Last year, the two worst teams aimed to rebuild behind rookie QBs: Tampa (Jameis Winston) and Tennessee (Marcus Mariota). Fans of both probably feel optimistic right now.
So when Roseman saw the opportunity to go from 13th to 8th in this year’s draft, and then up to 2nd, he jumped. Did he give up a lot with that quiver full of picks? Of course he did. Could it fail in a Jamarcus Russell kind of way? Yeah, it could.
But the Eagles haven’t won an NFL title since 1960. Why worry about setting the franchise back? If Wentz is a 10-year starter, no one will say, “Look at what the Birds could have picked with that 2018 second rounder.” We’ll be too busy molding the cast iron for that Roseman statue.