PFF Debate: Wentz or Goff the better QB prospect?
Once again, the Cleveland Browns find themselves in a position to draft a new quarterback at the top of the NFL draft.
In our second PFF Debate of the 2016 draft season, senior analysts Steve Palazzolo and Sam Monson discuss, debate and ultimately disagree on the superior QB prospect — Cal’s Jared Goff or North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz?
[Editor’s note: Looking for more on the NFL draft? Check out our 2016 NFL draft guide, loaded with scouting reports, signature stats and much more.]
Sam Monson: Well, can we start with arm strength? Carson Wentz makes Jared Goff’s arm look weak. In terms of arm talent, it’s not even a conversation.
Steve Palazzolo: I think you’re getting a little extreme when describing Goff’s arm. He has plenty of arm to make the necessary throws, but he does run into issues when he has to reset quickly — some of his passes will die. Either way, he makes up for it with quick decision-making and a quick release.
Monson: The arm talent thing is less an indictment on Goff’s arm, which I agree is fine (but just fine), and more an endorsement of the physical tools that Wentz has.
People talk about the QB they’d draw up if they had access to Frankenstein’s lab (they don’t put it in those terms, but we all know they’re dying to go full-on mad scientist), and when they piece it all together it looks a lot like Wentz.
Big guy, solid frame, howitzer for an arm, athletic enough to be useful and big enough that you don’t worry about every shot he takes. Goff doesn’t really have any of that.
Palazzolo: There’s no doubt that Wentz “looks the part,” and that’s a big part of his appeal. But he’s lacking in some of the areas needed to succeed at quarterback at the next level. His timing is simply not good in the passing game, often late with his reads, and that’s a big area that needs to be ironed out. When I watch Goff, I see similarities to the best QBs in the game — pocket movement, firing through his reads, accuracy. I’ll take those elements of Goff’s game over the size and the big arm.
Monson: I think what we’re really talking about in this debate is how ready they are to play Day 1, right? I agree Wentz needs to speed up his reads, but at least he’s working through them and has them at all. You can’t say that for several QBs in this class. I’d be more concerned if he wasn’t working through them at all, and never getting to No. 2 or No.3 in the progression.
I think Goff may be more ready to start Day 1 because of what you’re saying, but the X-factor there is what Wentz can do with his legs. Washington made RGIII super effective in the first year because of what he could do with his legs, buying him time in essence to learn on the job as a passer. Sure, it ended pretty badly for him, but Wentz is significantly bigger than RGIII and can take more of a pounding as a runner. He could probably also be taught to actually slide when necessary in a way RGIII never accepted. Either way, that additional ability to boost the run game could be enough to get Wentz in the game and develop his passing tools in game situations.
Palazzolo: I’m not seeing pocket mobility from Wentz — maybe he develops it, but the things we’re asking Wentz to develop are scary ones: timing, pocket mobility, downfield accuracy. If he can figure those out, then he’s potentially great, but that’s where we start the risk/reward discussion. What are the chances that he does improve in all of the necessary areas?
I believe Goff is more NFL ready. That said, he’s certainly no finished product. He’s still young — only a true junior — and he continues to add bulk every year. We could easily see him improve his arm as he fills out. I also love his quick mind in the passing game, that will always be there for him at the next level.
Monson: I think that’s the key. If we were debating Wentz against a far more flawless product, I’d be all for him being drated as the second quarterback in this class, but Goff has enough warts that I’m drawn to the guy with the bigger upside. Neither guy is a sure thing — both could probably use some time on the bench (that they probably won’t get) to learn and shape some of their rough edges.
Given that, I think you go for the guy who has monster upside and a proven upward trajectory in his career arc. I think a smart team can protect Wentz early with scheme and still play to his strengths while he develops. If he does smooth out those rough edges, we’re looking at a guy with sky-high potential.
Palazzolo: Looking at Cleveland specifically, the Browns should take Goff. While the upside is tempting, there are few common traits that all good quarterbacks share and Goff has them. I think he’s still on the upswing of his career and he already moves around the pocket, reads defenses, and throws with accuracy like an NFL QB. He’s the QB I’m hitching my wagon to long-term.
Monson: If you’re the Browns, I say you take Wentz. He may take a little bit more work from a schematic point of view in terms of starting from Day 1, but they hired a QB guy in Hue Jackson for a reason. Give him the best tools to work with and trust he can help him reach his potential. He’s the guy I’d take. And I think for once, the Browns may not be able to go wrong regardless of which guy they pick.
[Editor’s note: This piece was published before the Rams traded for the No. 1-overall pick.]