After the Philadelphia Eagles picked up wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith, there is no excuse for Carson Wentz not taking the next step.
In the 2016 NFL Draft the Philadelphia Eagles moved up to the second overall pick in order to select North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz. The small-school product was supposed to be a project player since he played against a lower level of competition during his collegiate career.
Originally listed as third on their depth chart, Wentz soared to the starting role after the Eagles unexpectedly traded starter Sam Bradford to the Minnesota Vikings for a first-rounder just before the start of the season. Wentz was then thrown into the fire early and started out incredibly well.
After coming out of the gates to go 3-0, the Eagles started to struggle and went 4-9 the rest of the way. Wentz had his ups and downs and finished the season completing 62.4 percent of his passes for 3,782 yards with 16 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. He has since been the victim of some criticism. But in all honesty, he is much further along than many expected after coming from North Dakota State.
He also could have boasted a much better season if he had a better supporting cast. The Eagles saw 2015 first-round pick Nelson Agholor take a step back in his progression as a wide receiver last year. His numbers looked better than his rookie year, but his season was plagued by ill-time drops, which hurt Wentz and the team as a whole. Outside of Algohor they had some good moments out of receiver Jordan Matthews and tight end Zach Ertz, but neither were incredibly dynamic or consistent.
This season they hope to change that. The Eagles not only own the 14th overall pick, but have bulked up at receiver already in free agency. They added Alshon Jeffery from the Chicago Bears to be the No. 1 wideout they have been craving since Terrell Owens left in 2005. They also brought in Torrey Smith as a deep threat at the position as well.
Many mock drafts have them going wide receiver again with their first-round pick that they received from Minnesota. Even without that investment, though, they have already done more than enough to help Wentz progress. The last season in which Jeffery was fully healthy, he brought down 85 receptions for 1,133 yards and 10 touchdowns. Listed at 6-3 and 218 pounds, Jeffery is the kind of receiver Wentz can go to even when he is covered, as he excels at winning the jump balls.
Smith is much less heralded than Jeffery, but is dangerous due to his speed. The former Baltimore Raven and San Francisco 49er has averaged 17 yards per reception for his career. With defenses focused on Jeffery, Matthews and Ertz, Smith can find himself running free down the field quite often. And unlike Agholor, he won’t be dropping the majority of his passes.
For Wentz, this simply means one thing—he has to take the next step in his progression. The Eagles brass has done all they can to give him what he needs, it’s up to him now to do his part and make good on his promise as a player.