THE BIGGEST variable in how soon Carson Wentz plays quarterback for the Eagles might be what happens with Sam Bradford. But surely Wentz will have a say in this, as well.

Ryan Lindley, the currently unemployed NFL quarterback who prepped Wentz and Jared Goff for the Scouting Combine and the draft, out in Irvine, Calif., says he doesn't think Wentz will require a long apprenticeship.

"I think Carson can get going right away," Lindley said earlier this week. "It doesn't hurt to have some time to learn, but he's got such an amazing football mind . . . You can say what you want about the level of the talent that was around him, but the football knowledge - his football IQ, what he was asked to do - rivals what a lot of people do in the NFL. He was handling protections, doing all that stuff that you don't see many guys do in college.

"At least the X's-and-O's part won't be any problem for him to pick up. The speed of the game is different for everybody, but that's something that reps in training camp and minicamp and OTAs can get him going with . . . We'll see how he progresses, and I think he's definitely got a shot to go out there and start in Week 1."

The Eagles' plan, as everyone knows by now, is for Bradford to start while Wentz adjusts to quarterbacking life several notches above North Dakota State and the Football Championship Subdivision. But Bradford is almost certainly correct in his assumption that trading up to draft Wentz No. 2 overall last week means the Eagles have little interest in Bradford leading the team into 2017, or beyond.

Bradford requested a trade. The draft, a likely catalyst for such a move, came and went with neither the Eagles nor the market showing much interest. We have no idea whether Bradford will show up for mandatory minicamp in June, and if he does, what sort of commitment he'll display.

Meanwhile, Lindley, a guy who has played quarterback in the NFL as recently as last season's finale for the Colts, and who has spent more time working with Wentz than anyone else from the league, thinks Eagles coach Doug Pederson very well might be justified in unwrapping his shiny, new toy long before Christmas.

It's going to be an interesting spring and summer.

Lindley, 26, started eight games for the Cardinals from 2012-14 and was cut by the Patriots after the 2015 preseason. He joined the Colts at the end of the year, when they had no healthy QBs. After the season he was talking to his agents, Ryan and Bruce Tollner. Lindley recalls making fun of the burgeoning Combine/draft-prep business, telling them he thought some of the people running such operations were unqualified, and that some of the drills were fashioned to look cool on camera but had little practical benefit.

The next thing he knew, his agents, who had signed both the top QBs in the 2016 draft, were asking if he might be willing to prove he could do the job the right way, with Goff, who would be drafted first overall by the Rams, and Wentz.

Lindley was willing, if Goff and Wentz were. He didn't want to coax any reluctant workers. Turned out, that was never a problem, he said.

"I wanted to make it applicable. I wanted everything to either be what you're going to do on Sunday, or what you're going to do at the Combine or at your pro day," said Lindley, who said draft prep often involves "a lot of fluff."

Lindley said he told Goff and Wentz: "We're going to get your drops down, we're going to get your feet quick, we're going to make sure your motion's tight."

Nobody has a stronger point of view than Lindley for comparing Goff and Wentz.

"There's a lot of differences. I guess the one similarity is, they both win ballgames and they both score touchdowns. But they go about in a completely different way," he said. "Jared's a California kid, kind of laid-back, just kind of a smooth approach to it. Whereas Carson, Midwestern kid, just kind of works his tail off. All he wants to do is work. You love the energy he brings every day. Every time he stepped onto the field, stepped into the conference room or classroom, he was all business. He wanted to go 100 mph as long as we could.

"At first, I loved it. He started wearing me down. We're pulling 14, 15-hour days. We gotta slow down to make sure this thing works for a whole two months and we're not burning out."

Lindley said Wentz liked California, but sometimes was more "type A" than is typical there.

"Jared's obviously not as big, a little smaller, a little slighter, and not as quick, although he's pretty athletic. Carson's just a big, strong, strong-armed guy, makes all the throws, is very accurate."

Some evaluators don't think either Goff or Wentz would have been as highly regarded in other draft classes.

"I think they're phenomenal," Lindley said. "I think a guy like Andrew Luck comes around once every few decades. Having been around him, played with him this past year, he's one of a kind. I would put them just below that level, but right up there with any guys that have been drafted in the last five or 10 years in the first round. Their ceiling, as far as where they're at with their ability and their work ethic . . . is extremely high. I wouldn't see them short of anything."

Lindley worked with Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich in Arizona and San Diego, and said he thinks Reich and Wentz are a good fit.

"Frank's one of the best people I've known in the game . . . I'm excited to see what (Reich) and coach Pederson can do with him - he throws well on the run," Lindley said. "As a coach, there's a lot in the toolbag that you can bring out of him."

One of the criticisms of Wentz is that he will lock onto a primary receiver instead of going through his progressions. Lindley watched a lot of film of Wentz's 23 North Dakota State starts.

"His first year, there was some of that. He was too smart for his own good - see something presnap, be pretty sure he had it, and go all-in. He learned over time, you have to assume something's going to happen, but then (wait and make sure) after the snap," Lindley said.

"It was really hard for me to find a lot of flaws in the way Carson plays the game. Jared, also."

@LesBowen

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