Wednesday afternoon marked the second time in a week that a NFL team traded up for a top-two pick in this year's draft. The Eagles did not have to give up the vast package that the Rams did to move up to No. 1, but they also didn't have as far to move up the board, going from the eighth overall pick to the second.
Teams without a franchise quarterback always have to be ready to give up picks for a player whom they could see filling that spot—the position is just too valuable to roll with bad options. The Browns have a long rebuild ahead of them, so it makes sense to pass on the second pick in exchange for extra picks if they don't believe in this quarterback class. At the end of the day, that evaluation is what each trade comes down to, and that is what's most interesting to me about them.
Some evaluators I respect have proclaimed that Jared Goff is better than Jameis Winston or Carson Wentz is better than Marcus Mariota, but it seems like most draft circles, even draft insiders who talk to teams for a living, aren't especially high on either of them. Mock drafts certainly didn't have both quarterbacks going 1-2 before the trade-up. Most just gave one to the Browns along with a snarky comment about how Cleveland can't develop quarterbacks.
Are either of these quarterbacks actually the kind of guy you build your franchise around? Let's take a deeper look at the stats and the tape.
Analytics: Goff is Great, Wentz … Ehh
Football Outsiders creates a projection for every quarterback coming out called QBASE:
FO's QBASE on Goff and Wentz
Mean Projection in Years 3-5:
Bust (< 500 DYAR)
Adequate Starter (500-1499 DYAR)
Upper Tier (1500-2500 DYAR)
Elite (>2500 DYAR)
QBASE values quarterbacks with a high completion percentage and a lot of college experience, as well as experience against good defensive competition. So it's not surprising that the projection is so low for Wentz, given that he played at North Dakota State and his numbers weren't all that great considering the competition. He wasn't the sustaining force of the offense—North Dakota State loved to run the football.
Goff, on the other hand, has one of QBASE's top-10 projections of all-time, between Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger. He started as a freshman, and his numbers are inflated a bit by Cal's Air Raid style of play. Still, that's nice company.
Tape: Wentz Loses Again
My favorite source for looking at college scouting is Matt Waldman's Rookie Scouting Portfolio. I help edit it every year, and I feel smarter for doing so. Waldman puts in countless hours grinding video each year, studying pros and cons for every skill position player he has time for.
Goff came in No. 1 in the RSP's ranking of quarterbacks, drawing comparisons to Jay Cutler and Philip Rivers from Waldman. Wentz is listed as the third-best quarterback in the draft, and noted for having poor pre-snap reads and indecisive feet in the pocket.
Now, this doesn't mean Wentz is bad, but he's a clear tier below Goff in these ratings, and there is much more to worry about with his development. He is the sort of quarterback who could definitely use a year to learn on the bench.
I would be pretty comfortable trading up to draft Jared Goff. He may not be a clear-cut No. 1 overall quarterback, but he's definitely in the right tier.
I am less sold on Wentz. When you examine the whole scope of what makes him worth it to NFL teams, you start to look at height-weight checkboxes and arm strength. Those are the two trait groups that historically fail pretty often at the top of the draft. I don't think his play at North Dakota is bad enough to make him unworthy of a top-10 pick, but it also doesn't make much of a case for him to be a sure-fire franchise guy.
That said, if we're assuming that the Eagles are trading up to get Wentz, he's a nice fit in Philadelphia. He can learn behind Sam Bradford for a year, much like Donovan McNabb was able to take time in the late nineties.
Ultimately, how you feel about both trades comes down to your evaluation of the quarterbacks. There's a lot of history yet to be written, but knowing what we know now, I would not have surrendered the picks for Wentz.