MOBILE, Ala. — With the temperatures dropping Wednesday in Mobile, Carson Wentz’s draft stock just kept rising.
And as NFL general mangers, coaches and scouts shivered in the stands of Ladd-Peebles Stadium, perhaps the only thing keeping them warm was the idea of drafting the talented Wentz come spring.
I mentioned in Tuesday’s notebook that the North Dakota State product was easily the best quarterback at the Senior Bowl and Wednesday’s practice validated that observation. To be honest, Wentz actually hasn’t been very sharp, but his pure talent still stands out above the other quarterbacks. In addition to his obvious abilities, his intangibles are noticeable on the field too. It’s not easy to walk onto a practice field with a bunch of players you’ve never played with and immediately take charge — especially with every NFL team watching closely — but that’s exactly what Wentz has done. He’s constantly talking, shouting directions and sprinting from drill to drill. It’s very noticeable compared to most of the players on the field, especially the quarterbacks.
– As for the other QBs, here’s a quick thought on each one of them:
Dak Prescott, Mississippi State — Prescott is intriguing to me because he has good footwork and mobility to go along with an above-average arm. He’s having a good week in Mobile and will likely impress teams in meetings too. My evaluation of Prescott is far from over, but right now I’d be willing to consider him in the fourth round.
Jacoby Brissett, North Carolina State — Brissett surprised me with his size and arm strength — it’s Ben Roethlisberger-esque. His technique and accuracy has been all over the map, however, and it occasionally has me flashing back to Logan Thomas’ dreadful Senior Bowl performance two years ago. I’m intrigued by Brissett, but he’ll be a boom-or-bust type prospect and I’m not sure the boom will ever be more than a middle-of-the-road starter.
Jeff Driskel, Louisiana Tech — Driskel’s arm has impressed me more than I thought it would. He’s also bigger than I thought. But he struggled with his accuracy Tuesday and while he rebounded a bit Wednesday, there still a big gap between he and Wentz. I’d maybe use a late-round pick on Driskel to develop as a backup.
Brandon Allen, Arkansas – At 6-1 1/2, he’s actually on the smaller side, which surprised me, but he has a strong arm and has delivered some pretty passes this week. Could be worth a fifth-round pick.
Cody Kessler, USC — I’m struggling see why Kessler was ever a hot NFL prospect. His arm is just average and he’s a lot smaller than I thought. He’s been very erratic this week and I’d avoid him in the draft.
Kevin Hogan, Stanford — Hogan had a great college career, but he’s just not an NFL quarterback. He has an awkward delivery with below-average arm strength. I wouldn’t draft him.
Jake Coker, Alabama — On size alone, Coker looks like an NFL quarterback, but his delivery is really slow. The whole process from snap to release just takes too long and that’s going to hurt him at the next level. He’s just a guy.
– Wisconsin LB Joe Schobert arrived in Mobile at 247 pounds, 11 pounds heavier than he was listed at this season, but is still showing the same agility he had during his spectacular senior year. That’s important for him. He’s doing everything right in practices and has looked good in coverage. He’ll be a solid NFL linebacker in a 3-4 defense.
– Ohio State WR Braxton Miller continued to build on his strong Day 1 performance with another solid practice Wednesday. He also took reps in the return game, and although he muffed a punt, he certainly has the speed and athleticism to be a solid returner. As a receiver, I’m impressed with how naturally he is adjusting to footballs in the air, especially because the quarterback play has been less than stellar.
– Alabama running back Kenyan Drake has stood out with his size and speed. He runs around like a wide receiver and looks like a perfect change-of-pace back who can line up in the slot. The issue with him is his injury history and he was banged up a little bit towards the end of Wednesday’s practice.
– Eastern Kentucky defensive end Noah Spence is making himself some money this week. He’s been all over the field and his speed rushing the passer is very evident. There’s no question his ability is worth a first round pick, but he’ll be a risky selection considering the former Ohio State standout was banned from the Big Ten for multiple failed drug tests.
– Speaking of first round talents, Louisville DT Sheldon Rankins had a dominating day Wednesday. On back-to-back reps against Michigan’s Graham Glascow (who was playing right guard instead of center), Rankins beat his opponent outside and then inside, making Glascow look silly. A few minutes later, he then blew by Arizona State’s Christian Westerman with an impressive spin move. I think he can play in either a 3-4 or 4-3 front. Either way, he’ll create havoc.
– Perhaps no player Wednesday received a bigger cheer from his teammates than Duke kicker Ross Martin, who nailed a 60-yard field goal despite a poor snap. He had the wind at his back, but on a cold day in Mobile, the conditions were far from perfect. It was an impressive kick.
The last two practices of the week take place Thursday and I’ll have final observations on WGNRadio.com/Bears.