Carson Wentz gets picked second by Philadelphia Eagles

FARGO--Carson Wentz, becoming one of the most celebrated athletes in North Dakota history, is moving to the City of Brotherly Love. Wentz, the quarterback from Bismarck who guided North Dakota State's football team to two national championships, ...

Carson Wentz proudly displays a Philadelphia Eagles jersey with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected as the second overall NFL draft pick at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University in Chicago, Ill. on Thursday, April 28, 2016. Photo by Dave Samson/Forum News Service

FARGO--Carson Wentz, becoming one of the most celebrated athletes in North Dakota history, is moving to the City of Brotherly Love.

Wentz, the quarterback from Bismarck who guided North Dakota State's football team to two national championships, became the first North Dakotan to be picked in the first round of the NFL Draft as the Philadelphia Eagles used their No. 2 pick overall to select him Thursday night, April 28, in Chicago.

Jared Goff, a quarterback from the University of California who has the same agent and the same quarterback coach as Wentz, was the first pick of the draft by the Los Angeles Rams.

It marks the second straight year in which quarterbacks were the top two picks. Last year, Tampa Bay made Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston the top pick, while Oregon's Marcus Mariota was the No. 2 pick by Tennessee.

As the No. 2 pick, Wentz is expected to sign a four-year rookie contract for $26.7 million. And, as the No. 2 pick, Wentz made plenty of NFL draft history Thursday night.


--The highest pick from a Division I FCS school. Steve McNair, a quarterback from Alcorn State, was the previous high when he was the No. 3 pick by Houston in 1995.

--The highest pick from a Missouri Valley Football Conference school. Brad Meester, an offensive lineman from Northern Iowa, was the previous high after he was with the 60th pick in the second round by Jacksonville in 2000.

--The highest pick from NDSU. By pick, the previous high was defensive back Ernie Wheeler, a No. 32 pick in the fifth round by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1939. By round, the previous highs came in the second round with linebacker Steve Nelson, the 34th pick by New England in 1974; wide receiver Stacy Robinson, the 46th pick by the New York Giants in 1985; and defensive end Phil Hansen, the 54th pick by Buffalo in 1991.

--The first NDSU quarterback selected in the draft.

--The highest draft pick among those who attended high school in North Dakota. The previous high was Carrington's Jim Kleinsasser, a tight end from the University of North Dakota who was the 44th pick in the second round by the Minnesota Vikings in 1999.

Wentz was a standout athlete at Bismarck Century High School before becoming a two-year starter at NDSU. Randy Hedberg, who was Wentz's quarterback coach at NDSU, heavily recruited Wentz when he was the offensive coordinator at Southern Illinois.

"The thing that you saw was his size and his athleticism ... and he was still a skinny kid," Hedberg said.

Wentz redshirted his first season at NDSU before his two years as a backup to starter Brock Jensen, who won three national championships for the Bison.


Wentz started getting serious looks from NFL scouts when he guided NDSU to a win over Iowa State in his first start as a Bison junior. Wentz set NDSU single-season records for passing attempts, completions, yards and total offense per game and was named the outstanding player in the FCS championship game.

That's when draft experts, including ESPN's Mel Kiper, began touting Wentz as a potential high draft pick. And even though Wentz missed eight games with an injured wrist this past season, his stock continued to soar--especially after he returned from his injury in last January's FCS championship game where he was again named the outstanding player.

He impressed scouts and coaches at the Senior Bowl, at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, at NDSU's Pro Day and at individual tryouts that NFL teams put him through. Suddenly, Wentz was being touted as a No. 1 or No. 2 pick.

"The last two months, he has established himself to be that guy and the impression he has made on those coaches," Hedberg said. "They are blown away from what he does with them on the board and talking football. He can talk with the best of them. He is well ahead of the curve."

That's what the Eagles are hoping.

The Eagles' current starting quarterback is Sam Bradford of Oklahoma. He was a No. 1 pick of the St. Louis Rams in 2010. But ever since the Eagles made a trade to get Cleveland's No. 2 pick--showing strong interest in Wentz--Bradford has demanded to be traded.

The Eagles, it has been reported, are hoping Bradford stays so they can groom Wentz for at a least a year. The other two quarterbacks on the Eagles roster are Chase Daniel of Missouri, in his seventh year in the NFL, and McLeod Bethel-Thompson of Sacramento State, in his sixth year.

Wentz will join an Eagles team that is coming off a 7-9 season, which resulted in the firing of head coach Chip Kelly. Philadelphia's new coach is Doug Pederson, who has a strong background in coaching quarterbacks--including his three years at Kansas City, where he was an offensive coordinator who helped quarterback Alex Smith produce some of his best seasons.


Last year's season marked only the seventh losing year for the Eagles since 1988.

In its 83-year history, Philadelphia won three NFL championships in 1948, 1949 and 1960 but have yet to win a Super Bowl.

Philadelphia Eagles fans--known as the some of the most loyal and vocal in the NFL--are still waiting for that Super Bowl championship. The Eagles have sold out 71 consecutive games and have 70,000 on their waiting list for season tickets.

Their fans have cheered on some pretty good quarterbacks--including NFL Hall of Famers Norm Van Brocklin (1958 to 1960) and Sonny Jurgensen (1957 to 1963). There also was quarterback Ron Jaworski, who guided the Eagles to four straight playoff appearances and the 1980 Super Bowl in which they lost to Oakland; and Donovan McNabb, the No. 2 pick in 1999 who guided the Eagles to the 2004 Super Bowl in which they lost to New England.

--- By Kevin Schnepf


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