2016 QB Class Shows No Lack Of Confidence At Combine Interviews

INDIANAPOLIS– It's the most important position in the NFL, so it's only fitting that the quarterbacks dominated the center stage Thursday at the NFL Combine.

The quiet giants like Laremy Tunsil and Ronnie Stanley don't generate the same amount of attention, and the defensive stalwarts like Joey Bosa and Jalen Ramsey will have their say later in the week.

Meanwhile, the attention of the football world has turned to this year's crop of signal-callers, and what all they can bring to the table.

The best quarterbacks, regardless of what shape or size they come in, are instinctive," said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett. "They play the game the right way with a natural feel – you can go back through history and look at that."

The Cowboys are one of dozens of teams looking for a young quarterback this offseason, and while the Combine might not be an actual football evaluation, it offers an early opportunity to look at those intangibles.

With the No. 4 overall pick – not to mention early picks in the three subsequent rounds of the draft – the Cowboys will have every chance to address the quarterback position, should they want to. The only issues now are determining who they like and how much.

The headliners understandable draw the biggest crowds and the most commotion, as two quarterbacks who are currently practicing together in Irvine, Calif. – Jared Goff and Carson Wentz – brought the attention expected of potential top-five draft picks.

"I think I'm going to improve a team the day I get there, honestly. I think I can be the guy who can play right away, the guy who can sit if I need to and learn," Goff said. "Honestly I'm excited for whatever team wants to draft me and I'm excited to make an impact right away."

Goff and Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch join Wentz as the main trio of high-profile quarterbacks in this draft, though only Wentz had the added exposure of playing at the Senior Bowl last month. Wentz came into the draft cycle from the FCS level of college football, but he hasn't lacked for confidence that he can adapt to the game's highest tier.

"I believe in myself, I'm confident, I believe in myself to be a franchise quarterback," Wentz said. "But all the opinions really only matter for – you guys all have fun stuff to write about – and then the teams, that's really all that matters."

Plenty of teams across this league have concerns at quarterback. Houston, St. Louis, Philadelphia and Arizona all spring to mind as franchises that have short-term or long-term questions at the position.

But as anyone can attest, the big two are Cleveland and Dallas – two teams with a need to fill at quarterback, both of which are located at the highest rung of the draft order. That much was made apparent by the volume of Browns and Cowboys-related questions lobbed at every quarterback who spoke.

It's an interesting dynamic, given the opposite situations involved. The Browns need an immediate difference-maker to man their offense. But how would a blue-chip quarterback cope with the possibility of sitting behind Tony Romo?

"It wouldn't be the worst thing in the world, but I mean you always want to play," Goff said. "But at the same time, if that's the situation you go into, that's the situation. You get better and you deal with it and you go through the couple of years or whatever it is and do your best and continue to be ready whenever the time comes."

That's the uniqueness of the Cowboys' situation, as it's fairly uncommon for a team picking at the top of the draft to employ an established quarterback. Arizona general manager Steve Keim may be in the market for an heir to 36-year-old Carson Palmer, but he noted the difficulty of finding top-notch talent at his draft order of No. 29.

"To be in a situation like Green Bay years ago when they took Aaron when Brett Favre was their starter, that's obviously the ideal situation," he said. "But how many times are you sitting in the 20s where you can take a guy that you see as the future?"

That question serves as quite an argument for the Cowboys to draft their next quarterback at No. 4 among the truly elite talents. But it'd be a mistake to think they'll limit their search to the first round.

Both Garrett and his coaching staff had a chance to work with the likes of Kevin Hogan, Cody Kessler and Jeff Driskel at the Senior Bowl last month. Senior Bowl MVP Dak Prescott said Thursday that he'd met with Cowboys quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson during his time in Indianapolis.

"He told me their picks and told me that they're thinking about getting a quarterback with one of those picks," Prescott said. "He was saying that if I work hard, things maybe could work out."

That's more information than Garrett was willing to give about how he hopes to use his draft picks this spring, though it only takes a basic amount of reasoning to determine that the Cowboys want a young quarterback. Garrett did allow that much when speaking to reporters on Wednesday.

"You always want to have a young quarterback in your program that you're developing," he said.

There's no shortage of options for the Cowboys to find one of those if they want one. Whether it's at the top of the draft or the middle rounds is anyone's guess. If Thursday's action was any indicator, though, this crop isn't lacking on confidence.

"It doesn't matter if you go into a situation with a Hall of Famer in front of you or a situation with nobody in front of you and it's supposedly given to you – I don't think that's true," Wentz said. "You've got to earn every bit of it, and that's how I'm going to handle the situation – whatever exact situation comes."


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