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Time With Cowboys Provides Strong Starting Point For Wentz's Draft Grade

IRVING, Texas – It's been a mere 48 hours since he finished his stint in the Senior Bowl, but Carson Wentz is already back at work.

There are still 87 days until the start of the 2016 NFL Draft, and it doesn't sound like Wentz plans on taking many of them off.

"Monday morning, right away, we'll be training right away in California," Wentz said Saturday evening following his performance at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala.

It was a solid, if unspectacular day for Wentz as the first quarterback to take the field for the Cowboys-coached North team. In one quarter of play, he completed 6-of-10 passes for 50 yards, highlighted by a 29-yard strike to Ohio State tight end Nick Vannett.

The North team struggled as a whole in the first half, as they failed to find the end zone before half time and ultimately lost the game, 27-16.

"It was OK," Wentz said. "Obviously we didn't score any points when I was in there, so that's the biggest thing. I'm kind of bummed about that, but I thought it went OK."

At least some of that can be traced to the hectic nature of the week. Each team only had three practices to prepare for the game, and the rust element was evidenced by the fact two of Wentz's passes for potentially long gains were dropped.

"It's tough. Being on the same page with routes and everything – especially with four quarterbacks here – it's really hard," Wentz said. "I probably threw maybe three balls to a couple of the guys, and I had to come out here in a game-like situation and play. But it's tough like that for everybody, and I thought overall we handled it pretty well."

It was a solid effort in the eyes of the Cowboys' coaches, who had the entire week to spend with Wentz and his fellow North quarterbacks – Jeff Driskel, Kevin Hogan and Cody Kessler. The Cowboys' presence on the sideline has linked them to Wentz for much of the last week, but Cowboys coach Jason Garrett was careful to offer praise to all four of his signal-callers in Mobile.

"There's so much for a quarterback to learn in a short period of time, and I thought Carson did a good job. But I thought the other guys did, too – Driskel, Hogan, Kessler – did a nice job," he said. "Monday night we got together and gave them a playbook and said 'You've got to learn it fast,' and each of those guys had the right approach. I think they got better. It was fun to work with them."

It would be a mistake to read too much into a glorified exhibition game, but it is a fantastic jumping off point – for Wentz and the Cowboys. The past week has served as an extended interview, and soon the Cowboys can get into the meat of their decision-making about what to do with their draft picks.

The same can be said for Wentz, who said he tried not to change too much about his game before arriving in Mobile. But with three weeks until the NFL Combine in Indianapolis and three months until the actual draft, he said he'll use the time to refine his game as best he can.

"Coming out here I was just my same old self, and now we'll look back and see if there's anything we need to tweak," he said.

Similarly, the Cowboys now have more time to do their homework – on Wentz and other Senior Bowl participants, not to mention hundreds of other prospects. Having the extra week of work ahead of such an important pick can only help.

"The big thing you're always trying to do is you're trying to find out who these guys are. So this is one piece of the puzzle," Garrett said. "But again, to get a chance to see them in a football environment – in practice, in meetings, in walkthroughs, to see them get better, handle success, handle adversity – that's a big part of the evaluation. It was fun to be around them."


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