The Eagles have an important opening to fill now that the Super Bowl LII MVP resides in Jacksonville. It's Carson Wentz's show and the team feels good about Nate Sudfeld, who has a real chance of climbing into the No. 2 role for this upcoming season. But the QB picture is incomplete, and it's a good bet the Eagles will try to fill it out in the NFL draft -- potentially by selecting Wentz's old college running mate.
At the annual NFL owners meetings in March, Eagles chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie said he would like the team to get back into the practice of drafting a quarterback every year or every other year, while being mindful of how any addition will affect a carefully-cultivated environment.
"We're very conscious of the culture in that quarterback room," he said. "We've had an incredible quarterback room with Carson, Nick and Nate. Just incredible. I think it's one of the reasons they are all so poised for success. That quarterback we bring in, let's say it's this year's draft or next year's draft, needs to be a great fit in that room, so you're not just drafting a player who can be a good backup quarterback, but somebody who can help the culture with the quarterback who is starting. So you want a relationship that is very healthy."
And Stick fits that bill. He and Wentz spent two seasons together at North Dakota State and grew very close, beginning the summer before Stick's freshman year when Wentz offered him a couch to sleep on as Stick transitioned from Omaha, Nebraska, to Fargo, North Dakota.
"He kind of took me under his wing and I was eager to learn," Stick said. "As much as he would let me, I would follow him around and learn about what it took to play here and from that, I think we realized we had a lot in common outside of football. Really just built a pretty cool relationship and we've been really close ever since."
When Wentz broke a bone in his throwing wrist six games into his senior season, Stick stepped in as a redshirt freshman and guided the team to five straight wins to put the Bison in the national title game. An eerily similar sequence unfolded a couple years later when Foles took over for an injured Wentz during the Eagles' Super Bowl run. The key difference here was that Wentz returned for the big finale. Hearing that Wentz would be cleared in time for the title game, Stick approached the coaching staff and encouraged them to play Wentz because, as Stick put it, it was Wentz's team. Wentz ran for two touchdowns and threw for another against Jacksonville State to deliver North Dakota State a championship and solidify his standing as a top NFL prospect.
Stick would have his time to shine. He started the next three seasons and compiled an insane record of 49-3 to become the winningest quarterback in FCS history. The Bison won it all in each of his final two seasons at the helm.
A dual threat, he threw 28 touchdowns to 7 interceptions this past season while rushing for another 17 TDs.
"He's talented. He's one of my good friends. Love the kid to death," Wentz said. "Really talented playmaker. And he's a winner. He's really athletic and makes plays."
Though he tested well at the NFL scouting combine, finishing near the top of the class in the 40-yard dash time (4.62 seconds), three-cone drill and 20-yard shuttle, among others, he is just a touch over 6-foot-1 and doesn't have elite arm strength. He is projected as a Day 3 draft pick (Rounds 4-7).
Like Wentz, he had the benefit of being groomed in a pro-style system and is accustomed to making checks at the line of scrimmage, setting protections and controlling the run game.
"I really believe I can be a franchise quarterback and a starter in this league," said Stick, a three-time captain at North Dakota State. "Obviously there's some development and growth that will have to take place, so it will just be about going into whatever the situation is and learning as much as I can as quickly as I can, and trying to be a good teammate, get to know guys in the locker room and from there, see what happens. But my plan is to go in and learn quickly and compete my tail off and we'll see what happens."
Stick has been making the rounds. He started his week with visits to the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers. He spent time with Eagles quarterbacks coach Press Taylor at the combine and interviewed with the team there.
"Man, that would be really exciting, just knowing the type of player and leader [Wentz] is," Stick said of the prospect of being drafted by the Eagles, "the opportunity to come and continue to learn from him would be awesome. To be able to experience the culture that they have going on there, obviously they've been really successful, so having the chance to learn from him and Coach Pederson and that staff, that would be really exciting."
Wentz, Stick and Sudfeld are all represented by the same agency, Rep 1 Sports.
There's no telling how the draft will shake out, but Stick would give the Eagles both the developmental QB and culture fit they're looking for. And he has a good friend in the building who happens to have plenty of influence.
"I'll leave that to those guys upstairs," Wentz said when asked if he's been championing for the Eagles to draft Stick. "I think he's a good enough player. Someone is going to like him and take him, and we'll see what happens with that."