Why Jared Goff and Carson Wentz Face Uphill Battle to Success

Luke Easterling@@LukeEasterlingCorrespondent IMay 16, 2016

Jared Goff, left, after being selected by Los Angeles Rams as their number one overall pick and Carson Wentz, after being selected by the Philadelphia Eagles as their top pick in the first round of the 2016 NFL football draft greet fans at Selection Square in Grant Park, Thursday, April 28, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Matt Marton)
Matt Marton/Associated Press

It is a truth universally acknowledged that an NFL team in possession of playoff dreams shall be in want of a franchise quarterback.

Even Jane Austen could have pointed out the painful truth that there are two kinds of teams in today's NFL: those with a legitimate playmaker at quarterback—and a shot at being a playoff contender—and those without.

That's why both the Los Angeles Rams and Philadelphia Eagles pulled their respective triggers on predraft trades to secure the top two selections in the 2016 draft. They each used their pick on a signal-caller they hope can be the difference-maker who can get them over the hump and into the playoff hunt on a regular basis.

Though both prospects certainly have the talent to be quality starters at the pro level, the concept of letting a highly drafted quarterback sit behind a veteran and learn the ropes has all but followed the split-back formation into near-extinction. There are experienced players at the position on both teams' rosters, but Goff and Wentz will likely be expected to take the reins sooner than later.

If they're to develop as quickly and successfully as their new teams need them to, Goff and Wentz will need to be surrounded by a quality supporting cast on both sides of the ball. Looking at their current rosters and future assets with which to build around them, these rookie quarterbacks appear to have rough seas ahead.

In L.A., Goff's best friend will be running back Todd Gurley, last year's NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. Having a rare talent like Gurley in the backfield—who is a threat to score every time he touches the ball—will be a huge asset to a rookie quarterback.

Jared Goff will have all the expectations that go along with being a top overall pick.
Jared Goff will have all the expectations that go along with being a top overall pick.Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

But past that, it's one giant question mark on offense, with a lack of star power and consistency along the offensive line and among their pass-catchers. The Rams still have a solid defense in place at all three levels, but that will only help so much if reliable receivers and blockers who will give Goff time to process the speed of NFL defenses aren't surrounding him.

Across the country in Philly, a roster that Chip Kelly completely upended during his brief stint as the Eagles head coach surrounds Wentz. New head coach Doug Pederson now has the challenging task of rebuilding the team into a winner, and it doesn't look like an overnight job.

There are promising young talents on both sides of the ball, but they're getting expensive to retain. Bob Ford of the Philadelphia Enquirer points out Philly's tough cap situation, especially as they look to extend their most valuable defender in Fletcher Cox:

One issue for the Eagles is their salary-cap situation. They don't have much room for the coming season, and are already committed to approximately $165 million for 2017, which is right around where the cap will be. They'll have to shed some salaries eventually and will undoubtedly do so by moving past veterans who still have decent money coming, but little of it guaranteed.

That won't solve everything, though, and while Roseman was able to ditch some of the large contracts handed out by Chip Kelly, he offset those gains with new deals for Bradford, Lane Johnson, Vinny Curry, Zach Ertz, and free agent Brandon Brooks. Those five are owed $122 million in guaranteed money, which is a lot for that group.

Neither Goff nor Wentz has a terribly exciting foundation built around them, but what could be even more damning is both teams' inability to remedy that moving forward.

To jump from the 15th overall pick all the way to the top spot, the Rams gave up both of their second-round picks and a third-rounder in this year's draft, along with their picks in the first and third rounds next year. They also received a fourth-rounder and sixth-rounder in the 2016 draft.

For the Eagles, they traded their picks in the third and fourth rounds of the 2016 draft, along with their first-rounder in 2017 and their second-rounder in 2018 to move up from the eighth overall pick to the No. 2 spot. They also received a fourth-round pick in next year's draft in the deal.

Since they had already traded away their second-round pick in this year's draft, the Eagles had just one other selection in the first 150 picks after taking Wentz. The Rams didn't pick again after taking Goff until the 12th pick of the fourth round.

Even with Sam Bradford ahead of him, Carson Wentz will be expected to take over sooner than later.
Even with Sam Bradford ahead of him, Carson Wentz will be expected to take over sooner than later.Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Both teams gave up a hefty haul of premium picks in this year's draft and in future drafts to make sure they got their potential franchise quarterbacks. If they hit on those two players at the game's most important position, they'll be considered "winners" in those trades. But without those early picks to help surround their new passers with top talent, are they setting them up for failure?

Goff seems to have the better of the two situations and was widely considered the more pro-ready prospect compared to Wentz. But in both cases, the rookie quarterbacks will have to rise to the occasion quickly and raise the level of play from their supporting casts, as opposed to having their teammates ease their early growing pains.

Both players appear to have the mental and physical tools to be successful at the next level. But the price that both of their teams paid to secure them may end up being their biggest obstacle to reaching their full potential. Being a young quarterback in the NFL is difficult enough in any circumstance, but Goff and Wentz could have a particularly challenging road ahead of them.

Time will tell, but the decision-makers in the front office and on the coaching staff will have to get creative over the next couple of seasons in order to set up their prized gunslingers for success.

Luke Easterling is a Featured Columnist covering the NFL draft for Bleacher Report. He also covers the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for Scout. Follow him on Twitter @LukeEasterling.


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