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Domo: Mayock endorses move to Wentz

If you just look at the numbers on Carson Wentz's playing resume, they don't translate to a quarterback who should be ready to make his first NFL start this weekend.

If you just look at the numbers on Carson Wentz's playing resume, they don't translate to a quarterback who should be ready to make his first NFL start this weekend.

Just 23 college starts at Division 1-AA North Dakota State. Only 612 pass attempts there, which was nearly a thousand fewer than the guy taken just ahead of him in this spring's draft, Jared Goff.

And, oh yeah, only one abbreviated preseason appearance this summer, thanks to two broken ribs.

Interestingly enough, though, when the NFL kicks off its 2016 season this week, it will be Wentz who will be starting and Goff who will be sitting.

The Eagles' plan for Wentz during the spring and summer had been for him to spend his rookie season watching and learning behind starter Sam Bradford, and then, take over for him next year.

But that plan changed dramatically this past weekend when the Minnesota Vikings, who found themselves in desperate need of a quarterback after Teddy Bridgewater's devastating knee injury, dangled a 2017 first-round pick and a 2018 conditional fourth-rounder in front of the Eagles for Bradford.

Just like that, the future became now.

"Everybody feels this kid is ready to go," Eagles coach Doug Pederson said Monday.

"Since they drafted him, he's exceeded all of their expectations," said NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock, who was the television analyst on the Eagles' preseason games on CSN this summer.

"Despite the injury, I think they came away feeling he was ready to play a lot earlier than they thought he would be."

Mayock never has been big on the watch-and-learn method of developing first-round quarterbacks. He feels the best way they can learn, the fastest way they can learn, is by playing.

"Both Wentz and the Eagles are going to be a lot better off (with him playing) than if they had waited a year," he said. "Every rep he gets this year should make him a better player next year.

"I'm a play-now guy with one caveat - that you can protect the kid. I've seen a lot of top 10 quarterbacks get the crap kicked out of them early in their career and not turn into what we all thought they were going to be.

"That's why I always talk about Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco. They came out the same year. Both of them started 16 games as rookies and played pretty well. Why? Because their teams had good run games and good defenses. That took a lot of pressure off what they were asked to do. It enabled them to get a lot of reps and be that much more effective in Year 2."

Mayock is bullish on Wentz. Had him rated higher than Goff. Thinks he's going to be an outstanding NFL quarterback. The one thing that does give him slight pause are those 612 college pass attempts.

"Even Flacco, who only had three more starts than him at a Division 1-AA school (Delaware), threw it 946 times," he said. "And Goff had a thousand more live reps in college than Carson.

"So if there's one thing I'm worried about with him, it's the pocket awareness, the ability to slide and move and get the football out quickly. I really believe that's going to be his biggest challenge this year. Just getting more comfortable in the pocket and knowing that everything's got to speed up a little more quickly. The ball's got to get out more quickly."

Wentz's 1-AA background never has bothered Mayock. Wentz played in a pro-style offense at North Dakota State that prepared him much better for the NFL than if he had gone to an FBS school and played in a no-huddle spread offense.

"He controlled the game at the line of scrimmage as much as anybody I've seen since Andrew Luck," Mayock said. "And that's few and far between in college football these days.

"He was already checking off at the line of scrimmage (before he got to the Eagles). He was already reading coverages and doing pass protections. Even though people want to be down on the fact that he came from North Dakota State, what they don't understand is this kid was way ahead of every other quarterback coming out in the draft with the possible exception of the Stanford kid (Kevin Hogan) as far as what he was asked to do at the line of scrimmage. So he had been trained like an NFL-style quarterback."

Mayock thinks Wentz will be helped by an Eagles offense that is going to run the ball a lot, use a lot of two- and three-tight end sets, throw a lot of screens and go heavy with misdirection.

"If you want to see how this thing plays out, you have to look at what Pederson and Andy Reid did in Kansas City," he said. "A lot of the answers as to how they're going to try and play this year lies there."

When Reid coached the Eagles, he was a pass-first fanatic who believed you had to throw the ball to win in the NFL. But he had a come-to-Jesus moment in Kansas City

Perhaps influenced by Pederson, the Chiefs became a run-first team. Even without their star running back, Jamaal Charles, for most of last season, the Chiefs finished sixth in rushing yards and 30th in passing yards. They were ninth in points scored, but only 27th in yards gained.

"They were extremely efficient," Mayock said. "They finished second in giveaways. They only turned over the football 15 times all season. That's the most important number there is after wins and losses.

"(Quarterback) Alex Smith controlled the game at the line of scrimmage and he didn't turn the football over. And that's the challenge for this kid as far as wins and losses."

Mayock said the Chiefs did as good a job as anybody in the league at maximizing their personnel. Two years ago, they didn't have a wide receiver catch a touchdown pass. But they had very good tight ends and running backs and became an inside-out attack.

"If Ryan Mathews can stay healthy and they can utilize (Darren) Sproles and (Josh) Huff the way I think they can, along with (Kenjon) Barner, and I think you're going to see a ton of two- and three-tight end sets, I think you're going to see an inside-out based attack with (Zach) Ertz and (Jordan) Matthews and Trey Burton," Mayock said. "And they're going to do everything they can to make it third-and-3, as opposed to third-and-8, which just chews up young quarterbacks."

Mayock said the Eagles showed no more than a quarter of the things they're going to do out of two- and three-tight end sets in the preseason.

"They're going to use Huff a lot like the Chiefs used De'Anthony Thomas, with him in motion, throwing it to him, tossing it to him, quick slants, that stuff," Mayock said.

"With misdirection, with the three tight ends, with running the football, I think they're going to do everything they possibly can to let this kid have play-action, where he can cut the field in half and only have to read half the field."

There also is the matter of Wentz's running ability. The Eagles don't want to get the 6-5, 235-pound rookie hurt, but his mobility clearly is one of his assets.

"He's a big, strong, athletic kid who can get out there and make some plays (with his legs)," Mayock said. "So I think you're going to see some zone-read. Alex Smith did some zone-read, but at critical times in games. On third down and in the fourth quarter, all of a sudden they're running the zone-read. So I think you'll see some of that.

"From my perspective, I think it's fascinating that they're going with this. I think they're very fortunate to have gotten the draft picks (from the Vikings) that they did. Now, it's up to the coaching staff to try and get the most out of this kid."

@Pdomo Blog: