Deshaun Watson, QB
School: Clemson | Conference: ACC
College Experience: Junior | Age: 21
Height / Weight: 6-2 / 209 lbs
Projected Draft Status: 1st Round
NFL Comparison: Dak Prescott
Deshaun Watson is a true junior who led his team to back-to-back National Championship appearances against Nick Saban’s Alabama juggernaut, winning this year’s game 35-31 and losing last year 45-40.
Watson may be casually characterized as a mobile spread-option quarterback, who have traditionally struggled in the NFL, but watching Watson’s games he does the most damage with his arm. In fact, while Watson is certainly athletic and mobile, he doesn’t have incredible speed or acceleration like Louisville’s Lamar Jackson, or past college stars like Marcus Mariota and Robert Griffin III. I believe Watson wants to and can become a pocket-first quarterback in the NFL (read: successful) and has shown the traits to do so.
While Watson’s physical attributes as a quarterback are good, not great, his character, leadership, toughness and work ethic are unquestionable. Ultimately this is the defining factor to me when it comes to evaluating quarterbacks. Watson delivers in clutch moments, such as the go-ahead touchdown pass as time expired to beat #1-ranked Alabama and win the National Championship game this year.
He’s also mentally and physically tough: he basically raised himself after his mother developed cancer when he was a freshman in high school, became a true freshman starting quarterback at Clemson, battled through a broken collarbone, finger, and torn ACL his first year on campus, and rallied his team to the National Championship game two years in a row. In order to become a more physical and resilient player, both at the college level and in the NFL, Watson put on 16 pounds of muscle between the 2015 and 2016 seasons.
- Winner: 32-3 record as a 3-year starter
- Work ethic: coaches say he loves studying film, taking notes, mastering offense, gym rat
- Mentally and physically tough, clutch, isn’t rattled after making mistakes
- Arm talent to make all the NFL throws + has touch - can throw fastball, change-up, etc.
- Mobility in the pocket and speed to make plays with his legs
- Good sense of pressure within the pocket, can step up to make throws; doesn’t always scramble
- Very poor footwork, often flat-footed in the pocket
- Leaves plays on the field with underthrown deep balls and balls behind receivers
- Takes many big hits and has injury history (broken collarbone, finger, torn ACL)
- Incredibly talented offensive weapons at Clemson (Mike Williams, Jordan Leggett, Artavis Scott, Wayne Gallman, Deon Cain ) helped mask deficiencies
What People Are Saying
Text from a national scout who's team is considering Deshaun Watson early. "Every throw is predetermined. Zero reading of defenses."— Charlie Campbell (@DraftCampbell) January 20, 2017
These draft "experts" don't think @DeshaunWatson4 should be the first QB taken? Name another QB better ....— Mecole Hardman, Jr. (@MecoleHardman4) January 19, 2017
And some ppl question whether or not Deshaun Watson should be top selection in the NFL draft. Those persons don't understand QB evaluation. https://t.co/dAQkoIoNFC— Reggie Williams (@regwilliams_set) January 12, 2017
How He Would Fit on the Redskins
A scenario where the Redskins draft Deshaun Watson is not as far-fetched as you might think. With the rumors flying around regarding the Redskins’ front office desire to sign Kirk Cousins to a long-term megadeal plus the 49ers interest in doing a tag-and-trade deal to acquire Cousins in return for their 2nd-overall pick (plus potentially more) in this year’s NFL Draft, the Redskins could have the ammunition and the need to draft a quarterback early.
Personally I think the hate on Watson from #DraftTwitter and a lot of the hardo scouts leaking early evaluations is completely ridiculous. In many ways Watson is the prototypical #1 overall pick - he possesses the desired leadership, physical ability, toughness, winning record, experience, work ethic, and character while completely lacking any off-the-field drama. His 32-3 record as a starting quarterback is remarkable, considering his only 3 losses in college were as follows:
- Lost 45-40 to Alabama in the 2015 National Championship game
- Lost 43-42 to Pittsburgh, where he threw for 580 yards
- Lost 28-6 to Georgia Tech as a true freshman, but he only attempted 6 passes and tore his ACL early in the game
I could conceivably imagine the Redskins taking a blue-chip defensive player like Alabama’s Jonathan Allen with the 2nd overall pick, should a tag-and-trade with Cousins to the 49ers occur, followed by the selection of Deshaun Watson with the 17th pick. While a player like Mitch Trubisky probably fits Jay Gruden’s West Coast/spread attack better, Watson has expressed the desire to adapt to any offense in the NFL and even has been practicing taking reps under center for over a year.
I can confidently say that so far, Watson is my #1 quarterback in this year’s draft class and is a better prospect than any quarterback in last year’s class. He possesses similar work ethic, leadership, and “clutch” intangibles that I pointed out about Dak Prescott this time last year while being both a more talented thrower and runner. I would applaud any team that selects Deshaun Watson to become their franchise signal-caller.