Cowboys: Why Carson Wentz At No.4 Might Happen

Aug 30, 2014; Ames, IA, USA; North Dakota State Bison quarterback Carson Wentz (11) looks over the line against the Iowa State Cyclones at Jack Trice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 30, 2014; Ames, IA, USA; North Dakota State Bison quarterback Carson Wentz (11) looks over the line against the Iowa State Cyclones at Jack Trice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports /

The Dallas Cowboys need a quarterback, and North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz might only be obtained with the fourth-overall selection in the NFL draft.

When you’re selecting in the top-5 of any given NFL draft, there’s certainly a reason that you’re choosing that far up the ladder. In almost all cases, this is the result of a lousy regular season that’s seen only a handful of victories.

Hello Dallas Cowboys.

When seasons like the one just experienced by the Cowboys in 2015 go down, you can almost always point to inadequate quarterback play as a big reason for the repeated disappointments.

Again, hello Dallas Cowboys.

Having said that, this is a more complicated scenario than the one which surrounds most teams choosing early in the first round of a given NFL draft. In this case, the Cowboys already have a franchise quarterback lined up for at least the next few years, or so says owner and general manager Jerry Jones.

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Yes, when Tony Romo is healthy, the Cowboys are a different team – a very, very different team.

When Romo is unavailable, this team simply has no offense, period.

So, the idea that the Cowboys might choose what amounts to a backup quarterback with the fourth-overall selection in the NFL draft in April might seem ridiculous. With a selection this high, the goal should be to grab an immediate impact player on either side of the ball.

By selecting North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz with the fourth pick, the Cowboys would quite likely be getting a vital piece for the roster, even if that isn’t obvious on the field in 2016. In fact, Wentz might not even qualify as Romo’s backup during his rookie season beginning next fall.

Dallas Morning News contributor Bob Sturm believes that it’s possible that the Cowboys might take Wentz as early as fourth-overall, and I have to agree that this could definitely happen, unlike other years when an FCS quarterback would never be considered so early.

It’s important to remember that the Cowboys will be in need of Romo’s replacement sooner than later, and if things go according to plan – no guarantee of this happening at all so long as aspiring head coach Jason Garrett is at the helm – then the Cowboys won’t be in the same position to grab a premium quarterback prospect, such as Wentz, any time soon, right?

The likelihood that the Cowboys remain highly competitive in an NFC East division that’ll feature two new head coaches next season and a less-than-frightening defending division champion is very high. This is not to suggest that Dallas will dominate the East again, but it very well might. The odds just aren’t very good that the Cowboys earn another top-5 selection anytime soon – unless, of course, Romo can’t stay healthy.

Again, back to Wentz.

Tired is the expression that Romo’s window to win a Super Bowl has closing. The reality here is that the window might already be closed, which means that preparations for the long term future of the franchise should be made now, not in one, two or three years.

I completely agree that now’s the time to go ‘all in’ with Romo at quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys. We’ve seen plenty in recent seasons in terms of what happens when he’s not on the field, right? Use him while you’ve got him.

I, for one, absolutely believe that Romo is capable of winning a Super Bowl, but did Dallas’ Thanksgiving Day blowout loss to NFC Champion Carolina Panthers last season not clearly illustrate that Dallas is not in the same class right now?

The reality is the there’s not a player chosen at the fourth spot in the first round that instantly transforms the Cowboys into a contender. This is not to say that Dallas won’t contend next season, but if that happens it will have much more to do with other additions and improvements that extend beyond just the fourth-overall selection in the draft.

Selecting Wentz with their first selection next April could be the smartest thing Jones has ever done since making his first ever draft selection in Troy Aikman back in 1989. This move could end up backfiring, as it could with any other player at any other position, let alone another passer.

Wentz is not a polished product as far as being ready to start in the NFL right away.

Was Aikman ready for this during his rookie season?


Peyton Manning of the AFC Champion Denver Broncos wasn’t ready either back when he entered the NFL with the Indianapolis Colts in 1998.

Question: Would taking Wentz with the fourth selection be any worse than similar choices having been made by the Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers? Remember names like Ryan Leaf back in ’98 and JaMarcus Russell in 2007?

I doubt that in the extreme.

If we remember that Wentz is not expected to play a role of any kind in 2016, then it’s impossible to say that you’ve got a bust on your hands. While I certainly have massive doubts that Garrett can oversee the development of any professional quarterback, the Cowboys still need to have a plan for the future at the most important position in football.

Wentz is smart, athletic and has basically all the tools required to play pro football.

While it’s true that the watered-down and average NFL has fallen into a childish sense of immediate reward, patience is a virtue and all good things indeed come to those who wait.

That wait isn’t going to be long, by the way.

The Cowboys coaching staff will obviously be getting an up-close and personal look at Wentz during the 2016 Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama on Saturday. This qualifies as the most interesting Senior Bowl for Cowboys Nation in decades, but not so much because the Cowboys coaching staff will be coaching the North team this year.

This year’s annual showcase of senior college prospects will be all about Wentz, a quarterback entering the NFL who’s been linked to Dallas more than any other since Aikman finished his last collegiate football game at the Cotton Bowl.

Speaking of Aikman, the Hall of Fame quarterback told Sports Illustrated earlier this week that he felt that either Robert Griffin III or Johnny Manziel will end up backing up Romo in ’16. This further enables the Cowboys to freely choose a future quarterback that also provides some stiff competition for any and all future Romo replacements.

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It’s also possible that Wentz could be selected later in the first round of the ’16 draft following a trade down from the fourth selection – hard for me to imagine the Cowboys having the ammo to trade up for a passer like Jared Goff of California or Paxton Lynch of Memphis.

Then again, Wentz probably doesn’t make it out of the first round, so that fourth pick is looking like the ticket, at least if Wentz is called upon to be groomed for a future in Dallas.

Either way, the offseason officially kicks off this weekend at Ladd-Peebles Stadium, even though we’re still just over a week away from Super Bowl 50.