Senior Bowl: This Week, Eagles Returned to Where They Fell for Carson Wentz

MOBILE, Ala. - This is where it happened. This is where the Eagles fell in love. 

While Carson Wentz was certainly on the Eagles' radar before the brass arrived to Senior Bowl week in 2016, it wasn't until they saw Wentz on the field and talked to him at night that they really started to fall for him. 

Their time watching and meeting with Wentz here a year ago not only started a mission to find a way to draft him, but also significantly altered the direction of the franchise forever. 

So as vice president of football operations Howie Roseman returned to Ladd-Peebles Stadium this week, he couldn't help but smile when asked what made Wentz so impressive a year earlier. 

"Well, I think the first thing was the physical ability, just seeing the ball come out of his hand and the size and the athleticism," he said. "And then the leadership, he had juice with his teammates inside and outside the huddle and just people who were on the field talking to him and getting their insight on him. And then when we met with him at the hotel, he had a photographic memory. He was able to really talk about his offense in a way that was unique and then he had a presence about him. 

"The interesting thing was we left the interview and he reminded us of Brent Celek. Kind of a Midwestern roots, tough-guy persona."

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Wentz was the big attraction at last year's Senior Bowl and while he was from an FCS school, he somehow was immediately able to handle all the attention. From the very first practice at the stadium, Wentz was impressive. 

"I liked him," head coach Doug Pederson said last year, when asked what he thought of Wentz. "He's got great size, good mobility, strong kid, good arm. It will be interesting to eventually sit down and talk with him to see where he's at mentally. But by the eye, talented kid, who looks like he can play in this league."

When the Eagles did sit down with their future quarterback, they were incredibly impressed. And while they tried to be coy throughout the rest of the pre-draft process, there was no doubt that Wentz became Target No. 1. 

It took the Eagles two trades to get into a position to draft Wentz. First they traded from 13 to 8 and then from 8 to 2. At the time, when the Eagles moved into the top 10, Roseman said the reason was because there was a talent cutoff and they thought they could get a much better player with No. 8. This week, Roseman finally admitted he wasn't telling the truth. 

"We wanted to get to 1 or 2 last year," he said. "Everything I said was nonsensical. … We were trying to get to 1 or 2 to get a quarterback."

Wentz, of course, wasn't in Mobile this week - although his logo was (see story) - but he was on the forefront of the minds of the Eagles' personnel chiefs.

On WIP Monday, Roseman said he wished he could bring some receiver prospects in and have Wentz throw to them to test timing. Just because he can't doesn't mean they won't listen to Wentz's input. They did meet with Wentz the day after the season ended and talked about the team going forward.

Vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas was hired shortly after the Eagles chose Wentz last year, so he didn't have any say in the decision. But now, it's up to him to try to find players that will help Wentz for years to come (see story).

"I'm sure there's quite a few teams that wish they had a quarterback like Carson," Douglas said. "This is a unique opportunity to find guys who love football as much as Carson and have them come in here and grow with Carson and develop as a team."

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