MOBILE, Ala. — It was cloudy, windy and around 40 degrees, souring the mood of those watching Senior Bowl practicesWednesday at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.
When strong winds carried away or knocked down passes, there were audible groans in the stands, where scouts, coaches, general managers and others were seated.
But the weather didn’t affect North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz. He excelled on that miserable afternoon, adding to a successful week. No player generated more buzz during practices than Wentz.
“He definitely looks the part. He’s an NFL quarterback,” one evaluator said.
Four quarterbacks are considered first-round material in the NFL draft: Wentz, Michigan State’s Connor Cook, California’s Jared Goff and Memphis’ Paxton Lynch.
While Wentz captured the league’s attention on the field and in interviews with teams, Cook’s draft status might fall after he decided to skip Senior Bowl week.
Goff and Lynch are juniors, and Wentz rates either behind both or between them, depending on which scout or league executive you talk to.
“From the day I got invited, I knew I wanted to play in this game,” Wentz said. “All that matters is what teams think. Whenever that draft-day call comes, I’m going to be excited, and I’m going to have a new favorite team.”
Could it be the Bears?
The Cleveland Browns, San Diego Chargers, Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers are teams drafting ahead of the Bears that might be looking at a quarterback in the first round. But odds are at least one of the top quarterbacks will still be available when the Bears draft at No. 11.
General manager Ryan Pace believes in the philosophy of taking a quarterback every year, but he also has newfound faith in quarterback Jay Cutler. The Bears’ decision to maintain continuity by promoting Dowell Loggains to offensive coordinator after Adam Gase became the Miami Dolphins’ coach is the most obvious sign they’re committed to Cutler.
Taking a quarterback at No. 11 would be puzzling considering Cutler’s success last season, not to mention all the other needs the Bears have.
But what if Pace and other members of the Bears’ brass believe Goff, Lynch or Wentz can be a franchise quarterback? Wouldn’t it be unwise to pass on him? He could sit and learn behind Cutler for a season or two.
It could make for serious discussions on draft day when the clock is ticking and the Bears’ phones start clamoring with trade offers. Plenty of teams drafting behind the Bears — the Philadelphia Eagles, St. Louis Rams, Buffalo Bills and New York Jets, to name a few — could be eyeing Wentz or the others.
Wentz has ideal size at 6-5, 233 pounds. He was a decorated, record-setting quarterback at North Dakota State, which has won five consecutive Football Championship Subdivision titles.
After Wentz’s performance during Senior Bowl week, teams have few reasons to be scared of his small-school status. He has an NFL arm.
“I don’t think there’s any specific throws [scouts wanted to see],” said Wentz, who plans to take part in all drills at the NFL Scouting Combine in February. “I think my film speaks for itself, that I can make all throws. So out here, I was just ready to come out, cut it loose and reaffirm those throws.”
Wentz did that and then some on a miserable day. He excelled with the NFL world closely watching.
“I’m just excited to keep playing this game,” Wentz said.
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