INDIANAPOLIS: North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz hails from a small college football program, but the big stage of the NFL Scouting Combine didn’t rattle him one bit.

Super Bowl-winning quarterback Kurt Warner thought Wentz had the upper hand Saturday when quarterbacks worked out in front of NFL talent evaluators and coaches at Lucas Oil Stadium. The performance strengthened his case as he competes with California’s Jared Goff in a tight race to become the first quarterback drafted April 28, likely second overall by the Browns.

“The quarterback class, I don’t think it’s a superstar class, but I really liked what I saw from Carson Wentz,” Warner, an analyst for NFL Network, said on the air. “I thought he looked the best of all the quarterbacks out here.

“Jared Goff, I don’t know if you see as much of what makes him a pro-ready quarterback out here in combine drills. It’s his speed inside the pocket, it’s movement, quick release. Those two guys I thought looked very solid.”

Browns associate head coach-offense Pep Hamilton was on the field closely monitoring the morning and afternoon sessions of quarterback workouts. People throughout the league expect the franchise to use its top pick on Wentz or Goff.

Goff threw with the first group of quarterbacks in the morning and had the most impressive session, followed by Michigan State’s Connor Cook, a Walsh Jesuit High School graduate and a projected second-round selection.

Wentz stole the show during the afternoon throwing session while Memphis’ Paxton Lynch, who’s widely considered the third-best quarterback in the class, was next in line.

NFL Network draft guru Mike Mayock ranked Wentz the best quarterback prospect entering the combine, followed by Goff, Lynch, Cook and Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott.

With the quarterback workouts wrapped up, Mayock said he thought the class “was pretty much as advertised.”

“Carson Wentz has been under center,” Mayock said during a news conference. “I’ve watched almost all the throws he made this year. He’s got good footwork because he’s been under center. He’s done five-step [drops], five with a hitch, seven-step [drops]. He’s got good arm strength, and I thought he was very solid today.

“Same thing with Goff from Cal. Quick feet, quick release, doesn’t have the arm strength that maybe Paxton Lynch does and Wentz has, but you can see everything you want in a quarterback that’s ready to play today. That’s what Goff is. He’s ready to go today.”

A major difference between the 6-foot-5¼, 237-pound Wentz and the 6-foot-4, 215-pound Goff lies in pocket awareness, Mayock said. Wentz started 23 games the past two seasons in a lower-level division, and Goff started 37 games the past three seasons at college football’s highest level. The contrast is evident in Mayock’s eyes.

“When I watch Goff, I see a guy sliding, moving around in the pocket, going from one side of the field to the other making every throw,” Mayock said. “I don’t think Wentz is at that point yet as far as being quickly able to do that, and I think he needs a lot more reps.

“Wentz is interesting because I’d love to see him sit for a year. ... I think that’s the ideal situation for him. Now if he had to go in and play this year, do I think he could take his lumps and do that? Yeah. But I think the healthiest situation for that kid in a franchise is to give him a year behind an established starter, even in Cleveland, if Cleveland took him. Go to Cleveland, spend a year learning the system and learning what you’re doing, and a year from now you’re the guy. I think that’s healthy.”

Wentz’s upside is appealing, and he’s probably the best athlete of the top quarterbacks.

•?In the 40-yard dash, Wentz tied for second among 17 quarterbacks (4.77 seconds). Cook tied for sixth (4.79), Goff ranked 11th (4.82) and Lynch placed 14th (4.86).

•?In the vertical jump, Lynch tied for first (36 inches), Cook was fourth (33), Wentz took 12th (30.5) and Goff tied for last (27).

•?In the broad jump, Wentz and Lynch tied for second (9-10), Cook tied for ninth (9-5) and Goff tied for 12th (9-2).

•?In the three-cone drill, Wentz finished third (6.86 seconds), Lynch placed eighth (7.14), Goff tied for ninth (7.17) and Cook was 12th (7.21).

Warner thought there was a lot to like about Wentz’s footwork.

“You can’t see the ground underneath his feet,” Warner said on the air as Wentz dropped back to throw. “He’s sliding them across the grass, so they’re right on the turf all the time. So anytime along the way all of a sudden the guy comes open, he can stick that foot in the ground and let the ball go. He doesn’t have to wait for his feet to catch up.”

He’s most impressed, though, with Goff’s mechanics in the pocket.

“I talk about quarterback quickness,” Warner said. “Quarterback quickness is different than everything else because you’re moving within about a 1-yard box, and the ability to avoid a pass rusher, turn and get your feet set and get the ball out quickly, and that’s one thing that really impressed me with Jared Goff when I watched him on film — tremendous pocket awareness. But the ability to move his hips and get the ball out quickly in that small, little box is impressive.”

If the Browns surprise people by passing on a quarterback at No. 2, they could target the 6-6?, 244-pound Lynch or the 6-4, 217-pound Cook with the first pick of the second round (No. 32 overall).

“[Lynch has] never been under center in his life,” Mayock said. “He’s got a lot that he’s got to learn, he’s working hard at it and when he gets his footwork lined up the correct way, that arm strength is elite. It’s really cool, but it’s a work in progress. I think he’s a first-round pick, but he’s a little bit of a project. He’s a year or two away.

“Cook, I thought he was good. I saw good arm strength. I didn’t see elite arm strength. I’ve done a lot of work on him. I have never met him. I’d love to meet the kid and try to figure him out a little bit also, and beyond that I think there’s five to seven kind of mid-round guys who all are trying to show teams that they can be the next Kirk Cousins.”

Nate Ulrich can be reached at nulrich@thebeaconjournal.com. Read the Browns blog at www.ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/NateUlrichABJ and on Facebook www.facebook.com/abj.sports.