Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson put on a legendary performance in this year’s national championship.
Despite playing against the most talented defense in all of college football, Watson led the Tigers to a 35-31 victory in the biggest game of his career. He gained a whopping total of 463 yards while scoring four of the team’s touchdowns, one of which being on the last play of the game. His heroics will go down as one of the most clutch performances in championship history. Shortly after the game ended, Watson declared for the NFL Draft. Where does he stand compared to the rest of this draft class?
Back in September, when Watson was an undisputed top prospect, I ranked him as my third-best QB in this class. Since then, players like Mitch Trubisky, Josh Allen and Pat Mahomes have risen up boards. As they rose, Watson fell. After his amazing performance on Monday though, that may change. Let’s go through some of the negatives in his game before we look at what
When I watched some of his tape, I have to say that I was a bit disappointed. For a player that had been touted as elite at the time, he certainly didn’t play the part. The same problems that I saw have plagued him ever since. His decision making is shoddy, which will undoubtedly affect him at the next level. He threw 17 interceptions this year – that’s more than Mitch Trubisky and DeShone Kizer’s total combined. I often knock Kizer for his turnovers, but Watson’s difficulties are a whole ‘nother beast.
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NFL teams love it when their quarterbacks have a certain build. Most teams prefer tall, beefy players that are built to last. Watson isn’t small by any means (6’2″), but he only weighs 210 pounds. Considering that he spends a lot of time scrambling and running with the ball, he is bound to take a lot of damage in the NFL. He can keep his style of play, but he’s going to need to bulk up to do so.
Now that we’ve knocked him enough, let’s take a look at the good things that Deshaun Watson has to offer.
There’s no doubt about it: Watson is a playmaker. He threw for 41 touchdowns and ran for 9 more in 2016. His 4,593 passing yards finished third in the whole NCAA. He is capable of rushing for 100 yards and throwing for 300 on any given night. Watson is very elusive, which comes in handy when he’s avoid pressure in the pocket. He goes through his progressions well and usually looks comfortable in the pocket. He can also deliver a mean deep ball; his arm is one of the strongest in the class.
The biggest trait that he has that most quarterbacks in this class don’t have is leadership. He can take over a locker room and rally his teammates around him. He’s the type of player that general managers and coaches love to have on their team. Watson steps up in big games, too. Not only did he play out of his mind on Monday, but he played well against Louisville earlier in the year. He also dominated against ‘Bama in last year’s championship bout, despite Clemson’s loss. He has that ability to come through in the clutch that franchise quarterbacks need.
When I compiled my 100-man big board back in early December, Watson was my 60th overall prospect, which results as a late second-round pick. I’d be lying to you if I said that his game against Alabama isn’t going to move him up my list. Whenever I see a quarterback that can come up in the clutch, odds are he’ll move up on my board. Although I won’t put him in my top 32 just yet, I would not be surprised if Deshaun Watson got picked in the first round this April.
– Jacob Infante is a National Editor for cover32 and also covers the Chicago Bears and Jacksonville Jaguars. He can be followed on Twitter @jacobinfante24.