You know him as one of the best college football players to ever tie the cleats. Deshaun Watson enters the NFL coming off consecutive National Title appearances, consecutive Heisman runner-ups, and of course, led the Tigers to a comeback win against Alabama in the National Championship this past January. Watson did all this while building the reputation as one of the most storied quarterbacks in college football history.
While he built quite the college resume, question marks surround Watson’s transition to the next level. Draft experts remain spectacle regarding his ability to go through reads, along with his accuracy. On the flip-side, he’s a walking highlight reel with dual threat ability and can likely transform dull NFL offenses.
At this point in time, on-going debates surround the likes of: Mitch Trubisky, DeShone Kizer and Deshaun Watson as who the top QB in the 2017 draft class is. Each QB offers a unique skillset and a different set of traits. Read the scouting reports, and you decide.
*Comment below with your QB rankings for the 2017 NFL Draft
Name: Deshaun Watson
Comparison: Robert Griffin III (Cleveland Browns)
Draft Grade: Late 1st Round
Positives: Can make the highlight throws. Throws a nice deep ball with a tight spiral. Displays good velocity and can drop the ball right into the receivers’ hands on long throws. Not scared to take the deep shot. Fires missiles deep and over the middle of the field. Excels at throwing to his receivers’ back shoulder and often times puts the ball only where his guy can get it. Good ball placement in the endzone. Sets feet well and delivers quick strikes on slant passes and hits receiver in stride. Flashes misdirection in the screen game and can sell defenses fairly quick. Good athleticism and running ability under center. Effective on read options. Does a good job of evading pressure and moving through traffic. Weapon in the redzone with his ability on rollouts. Perhaps the most experienced and pro-ready of any QB in the class. A team player who displayed tremendous continuity with his teammates in-game. Plays with extreme toughness and leaves it all out on the field. Intelligent individual. Will take big hits and get right back up. Led Clemson to consecutive National Championship appearances and engineered a comeback victory this past season. Steps up on the biggest of platforms, remains poised and calm and doesn’t let mental pressure get to him.
Negatives: Accuracy is beyond spotty. Average arm strength. Rarely delivers a precisely accurate pass. Struggles at working the sidelines. Overthrows a lot of passes and frequently delivers a pass too high for his intended target, also underthrows passes to the far side of the field on occasion. Throws a wobbly pass on occasion, usually in the intermediate vicinity. Sometimes throw a soft ball and sets his receiver up for a big hit. Ball awareness is a concern – struggles putting appropriate zip on his passes and lacks the touch you’d like to see. Too soft on screen passes at times. Footwork a bit sloppy. Doesn’t always go through his progressions which results in pressure/sacks. Decision making is concerning – forces too many throws into traffic and will occasionally throw an INT right to the defender. His weapons made him look better than he is. Lacks necessary strength to break tackles when running. A bit thin and needs to add about 10 pounds.
Outlook: Watson is an extremely tough prospect to gauge. He makes the highlight plays, but his accuracy may not get the job done at the next level due to inconsistency. He throws a catchable ball, but it’s rarely deadly accurate – it’s pivotal that he’s put into a situation with playmakers around him in order to take advantage of his skillset. Often times he relied too much on his weapons at Clemson. In Watson’s case, I don’t see him as the type of QB who you build around, but instead you build the offense and he serves as the missing ingredient. His pedigree, intangibles and winning ways are hard to ignore – those factors are what weighed into me giving him a late 1st round grade. Often times we ignore that aspect of a player’s college career, but winning does matter. In what is considered a fairly poor QB class, Watson can go anywhere from #2 to San Francisco to #12 to Cleveland, or even fall out of the 1st round all together; it all comes down to how a head coach feels Watson fits.