USA TODAY Sports Weekly
WENTZ EAGER TO PROVE HE BELONGS
Of all the players who participated in last week’s Senior Bowl, a kid from North Dakota State drew the most attention. Carson Wentz, a 6-6 strong-armed quarterback, excelled at the Football Championship Subdivision level, but how would he fare against the best of the best?
Nolan Vasan of NFL Draft Geek caught up with Wentz at the Senior Bowl’s media night Jan. 26 to ask him about his expectations for the week and what impression he hoped to leave on NFL scouts and coaches.
Q: How does it feel coming from a small school like North Dakota State going against all these guys from big schools? Do you feel coming from a small school gives you an edge?
A: I think a lot of the smallschool guys come in here with a little bit of a chip on their shoulder, something to prove, finally get out here and face the big guys and show we can play.
Q: How would you describe your game to those who may never have seen you play before?
A: I’m not afraid to take chances. You have to play confident and you have to play fast. Every now and then you’re going to have to take chances, but you’ve got to be smart with that. But at the end of the day, I think if you play fast good things are going to happen.
A: I feel very fortunate, very blessed. It’s an awesome opportunity to come here and compete at a high level, show the scouts, fans and media that you can play. The underclassmen don’t get this opportunity but we get a chance to give everybody a first glimpse of what we can do.
Q: You’ve played in a lot of big games, but did you feel nervous out there playing in front of all these NFL scouts and with so many people examining you?
A: Right away, before the day started, I was a little nervous, but once we got on the field at the end of the day it’s just football. You’ve got all these different guys coming together from different schools, but football is football and we’re all just excited to get out there and compete.
Q: Are there certain quarterbacks in the NFL you try to model your game after?
A: I think the three guys I enjoy watching would be Tom Brady, the way he dissects teams and gets the ball out of his hands. I think Aaron Rodgers is always fun to watch, the way he can extend and make plays. And also Cam Newton, the energy he brings and the way he has fun out there is definitely something I want to replicate a little bit. And with Cam, it’s like when I was growing up the guy I enjoyed watching the most was Brett Favre, how much he enjoyed playing the game and did his own thing out there. I definitely feel that’s important and something I want to have as part of my game.
Q: Is there anything you feel you need to work on transitioning from a small school to the NFL?
A: The biggest thing is footwork and being consistent with that. I feel like I made a big improvement in that area from my junior to senior season. It’s something that every quarterback is working on. It’s something we work hard on during the offseason trying to polish that up.
Q: Do you look up to guys like Joe Flacco and Jimmy Garoppolo who came from small schools, came through the Senior Bowl and made it in the NFL?
A: It definitely helps; it shows that it can be done. I think it sets a great example that it doesn’t matter where you come from, if you can play then you can play, and people are going to find you and give you an opportunity.
A: I think I’m a pretty versatile player. I don’t want to say I’m a dual-threat guy; I’m definitely a pocket passer first, but I definitely think I have the ability to improvise and make plays when the time calls for it. With my feet, I feel like I can be a playmaker, and I definitely feel like I bring some
unique abilities to the position.
Q: At the end of the week what do you want people to know about you?
A: The big question I think people have about me is whether I can play at this speed and against this level of talent. I think I’m going to prove that and at the end of the week it’s no longer going to be a question. I just want to look smooth with my mechanics. I want people to see that the ball jumps out of my hand and I have a strong arm. I’m also looking forward to making smart decisions. I think a lot of guys come here and want to show off their physical tools, but at the end of the day you need to make smart decisions with the football and execute.