|Written by Jerry Santiag|
Bet on the NFLWhen it comes to NFL betting, it’s not just fans that put their luck to the test; pro teams do as well. Case in point, ESPN senior writer Kevin Van Valkenburg calls Carson Wentz’s highly touted second pick in the 2016 draft by the Cleveland Browns “one of the biggest gambles in the modern era of the draft” – if it comes to pass, that is. How big? About $20 million. But the real question is whether Wentz is worth it. The Browns are certainly willing to pay the price to stop the string of overrated quarterbacks that has characterized the past ten years.
Betting on football players – or drafting them, as the official terminology goes – is a tricky proposition. Many big fish in small college ponds turn out to be small fry in the NFL ocean. In the case of Wentz the problem according to Valkenburg, is not whether or not he will face the same level of competition as a pro than as an amateur, but that he faced virtually no competition in college. Most of the Wentz’s buzz as a Top 10 draft prospect comes from his exceptional performance at the Reese's Senior Bowl and at the NFL Scouting Combine. And indeed NFL betting experts put Wentz squarely in the conversation as a first-round pick.
And there is also the matter of his look. At 6 ft 5 in and 235 lbs, his physique allowed him to play as a defensive back as well as a QB. A redshirt during his first season with the North Dakota State Bison, Wentz came from behind and secured the official starting quarterback position during his junior year in 2014. He started all 16 games and completed 228 of 358 passes for 3,111 yards with 25 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He the second leading rusher for North Dakota State after finishing the season with 642 rushing yards and six touchdowns. He broke his wrist during his senior year, but he came back 12 weeks after having a pin surgically inserted and helped the Bison win their fifth consecutive FCS national championship.
“Carson is the face of North Dakota right now,” Bison coach Chris Klieman said. However, it remains to be seen how well the success will translate to the big time – if at all. He undeniably has the accuracy and range of the high-powered rifles that he’s a fan of. And at his pro day, he seems to have impressed both Cleveland's new coach Hue Jackson and the Browns' associate head coach Pep Hamilton – on that occasion, the only representatives from the NFL. Betting on Carson Wentz appears to be the way they will go at the 2016 draft, either unaware or oblivious to the fact that Wentz didn't face the highest level of competition in college.