North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz became just the fifth FCS quarterback selected in the first round of the NFL Draft since 1978 when the Philadelphia Eagles drafted him second overall Thursday night.
Wentz’s selection is the highest a non-FBS quarterback has been drafted since Alcorn State’s Steve McNair was drafted third overall in 1995 by the Houston Oilers. Wentz joins McNair, Joe Flacco (Delaware, 2008, 18th overall), Phil Simms (Morehead State, 1979, seventh overall) and Doug Williams (Grambling, 1978, 17th overall) as the only FCS quarterbacks taken in the first round.
While Wentz did not receive a single FBS scholarship offer coming out of Bismarck, North Dakota, the senior signal caller made the most of his opportunities at North Dakota State, where he won five straight FCS titles in his five seasons with the Bison and two as the team’s starting quarterback.
In his first season as a starter for North Dakota State in 2014, Wentz led the Bison to a 15-1 record, completed 63 percent of his passing and finished with 3,111 passing yards, 25 passing touchdowns, 642 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns. In the 2014-15 title game, Wentz threw for almost 300 yards and his last-second rushing touchdown gave the North Dakota State its fourth title in four years.
During an injury-plagued 2015-16 season, Wentz returned in the championship game to lead NDSU to its fifth straight title with two passing touchdowns and one rushing touchdown. Though Wentz missed eight games with a broken wrist and played in seven games in 2015, he still finished with 1,651 passing yards, 17 touchdowns and six rushing touchdowns. His career day came against Missouri Valley Conference foe Northern Iowa on Oct. 5, 2015, when Wentz threw for 335 yards and four touchdowns, including a last-second strike to give the Bison the win in the final minute of the game.
Wentz was 19-3 as a starter for the Bison against FCS opponents, but he also excelled in his only matchup with a FBS school. In a 2014 showdown with Iowa State, Wentz threw for 204 yards and rushed for 38 more in a 34-14 win over the Cyclones.
Wentz becomes only the 52nd NFL player to hail from the state of North Dakota, and only the third from Bismarck (according to databasefootball.com). While second overall would be the highest a non-FBS quarterback was taken since 1995, it's the not the highest ever among every position. In 1974, the Dallas Cowboys drafted Ed "Too Tall" Jones out of Division II Tennessee State first overall. Wentz joins a crowded quarterback committee in Philadelphia that includes former No. 1 overall pick Sam Bradford (2008, Oklahoma) and seven-year pro Chase Daniel.