2016 NFL Mock Draft: Breaking Down Latest Projections for 1st-Round Prospects

Danny Webster@@DannyWebster21Analyst IIIJanuary 26, 2016

North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz (11) warms up before the start of their NCAA college football game against Montana Saturday, Aug. 29, 2015, in Missoula, in Mont.  (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

There's a lot of buzz surrounding North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz.

So much so, that there's a strong belief that the top quarterback taken in this year's NFL draft could possibly come from the FCS level. Wentz could be mentioned in the same breath as California's Jared Goff and Memphis' Paxton Lynch.

His stock is rising, and he's the biggest mover in our latest mock draft, switching with Michigan State's Connor Cook at No. 15 to the Los Angeles Rams. That wouldn't be a bad selection for the Rams to usher in a new era in L.A.

But what makes Wentz so intriguing? For one, he did nothing but win in college. He also has the size and skill set that make him a must for a quarterback-needy team to take a chance on. 

Nothing has changed much in this latest mock draft with the exceptions of the draft order and Wentz's rise to the top half of the first round. Here's a closer look, as well as a deeper look into the North Dakota State prospect.

2016 NFL Mock Draft 1.2
1Tennessee TitansLaremy TunsilOTOle Miss
2Cleveland BrownsJared GoffQBCal
3San Diego ChargersLaquon TreadwellWROle Miss
4Dallas CowboysJoey BosaDLOhio State
5Jacksonville JaguarsJalen RamseyDBFlorida State
6Baltimore RavensRonnie StanleyOTNotre Dame
7San Francisco 49ersCarson WentzQBNorth Dakota State
8Miami DolphinsMackensie AlexanderDBClemson
9Tampa Bay BuccaneersDeForest BucknerDEOregon
10New York GiantsEzekiel ElliottRBOhio State
11Chicago BearsJaylon SmithLBNotre Dame
12New Orleans SaintsMyles JackLBUCLA
13Philadelphia EaglesVernon Hargreaves IIIDBFlorida
14Oakland RaidersJamal AdamsSLSU
15Los Angeles RamsPaxton LynchQBMemphis
16Detroit LionsNoah SpenceDEEastern Washington
17Atlanta FalconsVadal AlexanderOGLSU
18Indianapolis ColtsShaq LawsonDEClemson
19Buffalo BillsRobert NkemdicheDEOle Miss
20New York JetsJack ConklinOLMichigan State
21Washington RedskinsTyler BoydWRPittsburgh
22Houston TexansConnor CookQBMichigan State
23Minnesota VikingsMichael ThomasWROhio State
24Cincinnati BengalsTre'Davious WhiteDBLSU
25Pittsburgh SteelersShilique CalhounDLMichigan State
26Seattle SeahawksCorey ColemanWRBaylor
27Green Bay PackersScooby WrightLBArizona
28Kansas City ChiefsTaylor DeckerOLOhio State
29Arizona CardinalsLeonard FloydOLBGeorgia
30Denver BroncosDesmond KingDBIowa
31Carolina PanthersKendall FullerDBVirginia Tech

Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State

  • Senior
  • 6'5", 235 pounds
  • 20-3 as a starter
  • Missed eight games in 2015 (broken wrist)
  • Returned to action in national championship game, accumulated 276 total yards and three touchdowns in win versus Jacksonville State

That's not a bad resume.

There was no way that a senior quarterback would miss the chance to play in his final game and deliver another championship to the Bison. Not only did Wentz play, he showed that there wasn't much rust to shake off after two months on the injured list. 

For those who haven't seen Wentz play, the hype is real. He's not just a big, tall quarterback that would be a first-year project. Whichever team takes Wentz in the first round should be prepared to play him Day 1, because he's certainly ready to take the reins of a franchise.

At 6'5" and 235 pounds, Wentz is the prototypical size for a quarterback in 2016. Not only do teams covet signal-callers that have size, but those who have a well-rounded game with a strong arm and quick feet when the pocket collapses.

His 79 yards and two touchdowns on the ground against Jacksonville State in the national championship game speak for themselves. Wentz is good at making things happen when he escapes the pocket. However, it's throws like this, courtesy of NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah, that have scouts drooling:

A lot had to go right for that play to work. First, Wentz needed to avoid the sack because two NDSU blockers missed their assignments—badly. Second, the arm strength and accuracy it takes to put the ball where it landed is absurd. That ball should've been thrown away or batted down. There can't be an in-between. Somehow, this is a touchdown.

Wentz is just as good when he's not running for his life. When given enough time to throw, he can deliver a strike—even when taking a hit at the legs, as Josh Norris of Rotoworld shows:

That should've been a touchdown, but this is a perfect example of Wentz's arm strength on display while under pressure. Not to mention, the accuracy is also on point.

And it's skills like these that have NFL draft expert Mike Mayock thinking he deserves to be in the conversation as one of, if not the top quarterback taken in the draft:

Mike Mayock @MikeMayock

DJ- he's totally legit... In the conversation with goff, lynch and cook...arm talent, accuracy , size and athletic https://t.co/ZFcwi3gV4p

The question, though, is how far can Wentz move up? WalterFootball.com and Dane Brugler of CBS Sports both have Wentz going as high as No. 13 to the Philadelphia Eagles, where he'd be a fine quarterback for first-year head coach Doug Pederson and his West Coast offense.

There also seems to be buzz within draft circles that Wentz could be the second quarterback taken, over Lynch out of Memphis, according to Eric Edholm of Yahoo Sports:

Eric Edholm @Eric_Edholm

There's more excitement over Carson Wentz than with Paxton Lynch based on a few folks I've talked to. Expect even more next week. #nfldraft

Right now, Wentz is slotted at No. 15 because the teams ahead of the Rams have more pressing needs. While the Eagles would be an intriguing option, Philly could use a lockdown corner like Vernon Hargreaves III to solidify its secondary.

The Rams are in need of a quarterback that can be not only be the face of the franchise, but one that the Los Angeles community can rally behind. The Nick Foles experiment did not go well, and Case Keenum is not a quarterback for the future.

Head coach Jeff Fisher needs a quarterback like Wentz to inject some life into the 29th-ranked scoring offense from a year ago. It wouldn't be a shock to see the Rams attempt to trade up should Wentz's draft stock continue to spike.

Wentz has the physical gifts to be great and the intangibles to be a franchise savior. He's the guy to look out for going forward.