Draft Notes: Klieman on Wentz, Gruden’s QB Camp

Plus: What the college offensive coordinators for the top quarterback prospects have to say.
North Dakota State head coach Chris Klieman. (USA Today Sports)

North Dakota State head coach Chris Klieman. (USA Today Sports)

Less than 24 hours after Carson Wentz dazzled NFL scouts at his Pro Day, North Dakota State head coach Chris Klieman joined 97.5 the Fanatic Morning Show today to discuss the quarterback that the Eagles may be interested in trading up for.

Klieman told a few stories, including how they changed the weekly captains meetings to Monday so Wentz could hunt all day Sunday, and how Wentz, without being asked, went through the next week’s game plan with his backup the day after he found out his wrist was broken. But one thing the coach addressed was one of the knocks on Wentz.

“The only thing that I’ve heard is his sample size is only 23 games,” Klieman said. “Well, you can take it both ways, telling me there’s a ton of upside, too, because there is only 23 games as opposed to the flip side. Well, he dominated the 23 games of football. He went 20-3 and led us to two national championships.”

Klieman raved about Wentz’s stature — “he’s 6-5 1/2, 237 pounds and can run like a deer” — and tried to quell doubts about whether his quarterback is ready for the NFL.

“Our offense is very similar to an NFL-style offense. We’re in a huddle, he has the keys to the car, he’s making all the adjustments, all the checks at the line of scrimmage. We’re not looking over to a big picture of Scott Van Pelt or somebody else to make the change of the call,” Klieman said.

“He’s under center, so he’s doing a lot of the play-action stuff and the 5- and 7-step drops. I know that we worry about it at the college level when we take a high school quarterback that’s only been in the shotgun, well take it up another level of going from college to the NFL when a college guy has to take it under center, I know that there’s concerns. And that’s something that Carson is ahead of the game because he’s been in that style of offense.”

A COACH’S PERSPECTIVE

The MMQB’s Robert Klemko put together an insightful piece about the draft’s top three quarterbacks by talking to their college offensive coordinators. The whole thing deserves a read, but below are a few excerpts.

On California’s Jared Goff:

“People think because we’re in this Air Raid family that there’s one or two progressions for the quarterback, which is really an insult because it’s nowhere near the truth,” Franklin says. “We give the quarterback an incredible amount of responsibility and (Goff) got more than any quarterback since I’ve been coaching.

“He probably had more on his shoulders before the snap than any quarterback in the NFL.”

On Wentz:

Like Goff, Wentz had the ability in an injury-shortened 2015 season to check to a prescribed run or pass play with an additional check the coaches simply called “Carson.” If Wentz recognized a trouble situation, he could spout any play in the book. Additionally, Wentz was required to call out the protection on every pass play, a job for most NFL centers.

“The NFL people have been blown away with what he’s had to handle protection wise,” Polasek says. “The quarterbacks he’s being compared to are not necessarily allowed to make checks or the right protection call. There’s going to be multiple times in a game where he checks from run to pass. He’s got situations that he has to get us out of otherwise I look really bad as a play-caller.”

On Memphis’s Paxton Lynch:

One of the biggest reasons Lynch is considered in the second-tier of available quarterbacks—below Goff and Wentz, but above Christian Hackenberg and Connor Cook—is his limited experience with pro-style concepts and a lack of responsibility in the Memphis offense. Said one scout: “After Wentz and Goff, this is a great backup quarterback draft.”

Of the top three QBs, Lynch had by far the least responsibility in his offense, where plays are called in from the sideline without much room for interpretation.

GRUDEN’S QB CAMP

In the last few days, ESPN released clips from Jon Gruden’s QB Camp with Lynch and Penn State’s Christian Hackenberg. Here are several scenes.

Asher Dark contributed to this post.