Wingenbach: How the Eagles Scouted Carson Wentz
BISMARCK, ND — When Roger Goodell announced the Eagles’ selection of Carson Wentz with the second pick in the draft last night, Bismarck, North Dakota erupted. Thousands of people gathered in the same stadium Wentz played some of his high school games in, and nearly everyone seemed to be jumping for joy or screaming at the top of their lungs.
Everyone except Ron Wingenbach.
Wentz’s high school coach instead let out a fist pump, as he seemed to be almost as relieved afterward as he was excited. While many at the Wentz watch party booed the Rams’ selection of Jared Goff over their hometown hero, Wingenbach wasn’t very surprised. After the Eagles traded up for the No. 2 pick, they sent Wingenbach team gear almost as soon as the deal happened.
“That gave me the feeling that he’d end up in Philadelphia,” Wingenbach said.
What did surprise Wingenbach was how Wentz ended up in Philadelphia. The Eagles were one of the last teams to reach out to him, and while many other franchises communicated with him in January, he didn’t hear from Philadelphia until the end of March.
When the team did finally signal interest, their conversations with Wingenbach were some of the most thorough he had with any team. A lot of franchises sent him a basic questionnaire to fill out and asked generic questions about character, but Eagles scout Anthony Patch scheduled meetings with both Wingenbach and Wentz’s high school basketball coach, Darin Mattern, the day before North Dakota State’s Pro Day.
“I just think their overall depth [was unique],” Wingenbach said. “From the time he was in high school all the way to his last days at NDSU, they wanted to know everything. They wanted to know character, but they were a little more interested in skill development.
“That’s the one thing that caught my eye right away. No one else asked about what I thought about his progression, but when they kept asking questions, they were very, very enthused about everything they said. I went home and told my wife, ‘Don’t be surprised if the Eagles try to get that No. 1 pick somehow.’”
While he was one pick off, Wingenbach accurately predicted Philadelphia’s move up to grab Wentz. Wingenbach believes the Eagles’ interest in Wentz “had a lot to do with” Doug Pederson, and how Philadelphia’s new coach “really liked what he saw.” Wingenbach thinks Wentz’s experience in a pro-style offense, which included three- and five-step drops along with play-action passes, helped his standing.
Wingenbach noted that most teams didn’t seem very concerned about Wentz’s ability to make the jump from the FCS to the NFL, but it was more of a narrative that the media pushed. What teams did seem to be interested in was Wentz’s physical growth.
According to Wingenbach, Wentz put on almost 30 pounds of muscle at North Dakota State, while growing almost two inches. Wingenbach opined that while Wentz was clearly overlooked when coming out of high school, it may not have been quite to the degree everyone assumes. He described a noticeable jump in Wentz’s game in college, and attributed much of that to Randy Hedberg, North Dakota State’s quarterbacks coach.
“His demeanor and his handling of Carson was perfect,” Wingenbach said. “It was a great fit. He’s a warrior when it comes to quarterback play.”
Two areas Wingenbach saw improvement in were arm strength and the trajectory of throws. With all of the muscle Wentz added to his scrawny frame, his velocity jumped, while he simultaneously figured out how he should deliver the ball to his receivers (lob it, drill it, etc.).
Another question mark about Wentz is how he’ll handle the move from North Dakota to Philadelphia and the pressure that comes with being the potential face of an NFL franchise. But Wingenbach isn’t concerned because of the help Wentz will get from his family.
“One thing Carson has going for him is his brother and his brother’s wife will move down to Philadelphia with him,” Wingenbach said. “Zach is going to control the outside things. He’s going to take a lot of pressure off of Carson’s plate and I think that’s a great move. Carson can concentrate on the playbook and playing football, so he’ll be fine.”