It’s a title the signal-caller out of North Dakota State expects to have within the NFL fairly soon.
“I’m confident,” Wentz said at the NFL Combine this week. “I believe in myself to be a franchise quarterback.”
And what, exactly, does that mean to him?
“I think, first and foremost, you’ve got to win,” Wentz said. “I think being a winner in the NFL -- that’ll take you places for sure. I think for me, coming out of North Dakota State, the track record speaks for itself as a winner. So when I think of a franchise quarterback, not only do I think of the physical ability, but I think of being a winner, winning ball games, taking command, being a leader -- all those things really come to mind.”
A two-year starter at NDSU, Wentz has spent plenty of time winning and being in command of an offense that may translate well to the next level.
Playing under center in a pro-style offense, having to command a huddle on every play -- those are factors that should certainly help Wentz as a pro. One criticism of incoming rookie quarterbacks, especially over the last few years, is that they have not had anything close to the demanding leadership role required of a starting NFL quarterback. For Wentz, however, that likely is not an issue.
Instead, the question mark on Wentz has more to do with the level of football he’s coming out of, as NDSU is an FCS school. That’s part of why the Senior Bowl was helpful for him.
“I think to a lot of people, it showed that I can handle that game speed,” Wentz said. “There’s still going to be a big jump going forward, but that was probably the big question everyone wants to know, can you adjust to -- he’s playing FCS ball and these are FBS guys. I think I went in there and proved I can handle it.”
Because there are no more game opportunities to illustrate that fact between now and the draft, Wentz realizes the importance of his game tape. And he’s confident in what it shows.
“I think that speaks for itself quite a bit,” Wentz said. “And you come into these meetings, you show what you’re capable of learning, how quick you’re able to adjust and acquire information and spit it back out, learn and understand it. That’s really all you can do.”
Plus, there have been recent players coming from smaller schools who have gone on to plenty of success in the league. Wentz brought up Baltimore’s Joe Flacco and Dallas’ Tony Romo as examples of QBs.
“Whether it’s quarterbacks or other position players, there’s a lot of talented individuals at the FCS level who can play,” Wentz said. “And especially a guy like Flacco coming in early right away as a rookie and winning some ball games shows that adjustment can be made by special players for sure.”
And so while Wentz is not trying to compare himself to anyone else at his position in the upcoming class, there is a part of him that wants to be the first quarterback off the board.
“As a competitor, everyone wants to be the top guy, no doubt about it,” Wentz said. “But what matters to me is a team that picks me that believes in me. I want to go in somewhere that they believe in myself to be that franchise quarterback, whether it’s right away or down the road. That’s what’s important to me.”